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. .