The 35-year-old rolled back the years with two vintage headed goals in the space of six minutes to cancel out Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s 52nd minute opener and give Oleh Blokhin’s side perfect start to their tournament campaign on home soil. Sweden had chances to snatch a point and Johan Elmander was the main culprit blasting over from 10 yards in the closing stages as they immediately plunged to the bottom of the group following England’s draw with France earlier in the day.
Priot to kick off both teams knew a win would give them the advantage rolling the stalemate in Donetsk but didn’t seem to take heed in a lacklustre first half that was deficient in both quality and incident. Shevchenko did have a few sniffs of goal and dragged an early shot wide after a neat interchange with Andriy Yarmolenko before seeing another effort blocked in the penalty area. Ibrahimovic, given the responsibility of captaining Sweden by manager Erik Hamrén, was also misfiring hitting the outside of the post with a header after being picked out by Sebastian Larsson.
The AC Milan striker made no mistake seven minutes after the break though instinctively stabbing the ball home from close range after Kim Kallstrom had returned Larsson’s deep cross. That seemed to jolt Ukraine into life and within three minutes they were level as Shevchenko displayed the sharpness that made him one of the most feared strikers in European football. Despite been robbed of his pace courtesy of age and injuries the former Chelsea hit man darted ahead of Olaf Mellberg to power Yarmonlenko’s cross past Andreas Isaksson and become the second oldest goal scorer in European Championship history.
Six minutes later more superb movement from Shevchenko yielded more rewards dashing to the near post to glance Oleh Gusev’s corner in at the near post to send the Ukrainian support into pandemonium. Starring down the barrel of defeat Sweden called up on their last reserves of energy and piled on the pressure in the hope of snatching an equaliser. Andriy Pyatov did superbly to keep out a thundering volley from Ibrahimovic before playing Elmander through in the dying embers only for the former Bolton striker’s composure to desert him a the crucial moment.
Mellberg then came close to breaking Ukraine hearts as his back post volley agonisingly dropped just over the bar and onto the roof of the net as Shevchenko and his teammates rejoiced at the final whistle.