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Ukraine strikes late in overtime against Sweden to set England quarter-finals

The second of three minutes of added time added to the end of overtime. The 98 minutes of rear guard Sweden had worn since Marcus Danielsson's dismissal were almost over. Penalties seemed within touching distance. Then Ukraine sent the ball to Oleksandr Zinchenko, again from the left wing. He passed and substitute Artem Dovbyk stepped forward to pass Robin Olsen. Blue shirts were tastefully decorated. Yellow shirts folded. A shaved, topless, bare-headed man with goosebumps rushed hesitantly onto the field and fell to his knees, ecstatic. And with that came a grueling ending. Ukraine will face England in the quarter-finals in Rome on Saturday.

What was it for? The 11 minutes was a clear game that was no less quality, turned into a brutal challenge in overtime. Danielsson's red card changed the dynamic, but both sides looked exhausted and there were numerous interruptions as players collapsed with injuries. Ukraine came back with a bit of a faded, extra man, but Sweden's four-sided two bankers looked as stable as ever, at least until another game change took them back.

Ukraine's campaign was over. weakened by left winger Oleksandr Zubkov's injury in the defeat against the Netherlands. He finished the season strong with Ferencvaros and was man of the match in the friendly win against Northern Ireland last month. Marlos replaced him in that match, but it was so slow that he withdrew before the end of the match. Ruslan Malinovskyi was moved from midfield to that wing in the other two group games, but relegated to the bench here as Andriy Shevchenko reverted to the 3-5-2 he tried before the final tournament.

This meant the return of veteran Taras Stepanenko with Serhiy Sydorchuk at the back of the midfield. The pair had started together at this European Championships. They provided an additional screen in front of the defensive line and forced Sweden to go out and find a middle in the penalty area, just as they brought Dejan Kulusevski. He missed the start of the tournament after a positive Covid test, but here he was with Alexander Isak, Marcus Berg or Robin Quaison may have opted for this type of service.

Shevchenko is a smart coach. and clearly developed Ukraine. This is a better, more proactive side than the one who limped out of the last European Championship without scoring. After all the anger about the shirt, with the map of Ukraine including Russian-occupied Crimea in Jacquard, and the controversial slogans around the neck, there was a sense that this was a team with a purpose that made their loose performance against Austria so surprising. .

sweden's marcus danielson leaves the pitch after he was shown the red card for his challenge on ukraine's artem besyedin in extra time. sweden's marcus danielson leaves the pitch after he was shown the red card for his challenge on ukraine's artem besyedin in extra time.
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Swedish player Marcus Danielson leaves the field after leaving the game. He was shown a red card for his fight against Ukrainian Artem Besyedin in extra time. Photo: Petr David Josek/AP

Maybe the rhetoric has always come from outside the squad, or maybe the football games are ultimately mostly about football and Ukraine lost to Austria. The group stage is not due to some patriotic failure, but because they could not cope with the physical structure and organization of Austria.

It obviously did not bode well against Sweden, as no national side was so consistent. and effectively physical and well-organized as it is – this is a curious 10-minute shakeup against Poland.

In it, the transition to 3-5-2 made sense: a top man in the center back and midfield, and he hopes the wingbacks can handle wide midfielders without the overlaps from Sweden's fullbacks. It worked. Shevchenko said, “With this performance and dedication, our team deserved the love of the whole country. From the first minutes we knew how our team should play. We knew who could make us stronger [during the game]. The plan we developed worked.”

As it turns out, the change in shape had a much greater impact as Zinchenko, who has remained silent until now, brought Ukraine forward with a striking target. Mykola Shaparenko, enjoying her deeper role, started the move with a sweeping ball from the right to Oleksandr Karavayev. He turned it into Yarmolenko on the field, he paused, joked past his man, and then made a nice pass with the outside of his right foot to the left flank, which went past Olsen's dive.

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Sweden went a bit flat after early promises and the game seemed to drift towards halftime as Emil Forsberg found space outside Ukraine's midfield shield. Illya Zabarnyi made a move to shut him down, but it was too late and Forsberg's shot bounced off him to the roof of the net over Heorhiy Bushchan.

And that was the pattern of the game: wing-backs against Ukraine's Forsberg. Ten minutes later, Karavaev and Yarmolenko combined, raising the possibility of Sydorchuk hitting the outside of the post.

Two minutes later, a delicate Forsberg tongs vibrated against the base of the post. on the other end. A few minutes after that, Forsberg hit the pole.

But the goal was not for Sweden, and then it finally came, apparently not for Ukraine. . By then both sides looked exhausted but as England learned in Russia against Croatia, you can never count on an opponent getting tired when you need it.

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