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Shevchenko sets his sights on quarter-finals

PTI 14 Jun 2012, 16:59:56 IST
Donetsk (Ukraine), Jun 14: The sensation of the first Euro 2012 matchday, Ukraine icon Andrei Shevchenko will now seek to guide his country into the quarter-finals with victory over France tomorrow.

The 35-year-old Dynamo Kiev striker rolled back the years to give the co-hosts a 2-1 win over Sweden on Monday, his headed second-half brace sending a wave of jubilation sweeping across the co-host nation.

As well as taking his international goal tally to 48, Shevchenko's match-winning intervention at Dynamo's Olympic Stadium also gave Ukraine control of Group D, as France and England drew their opening encounter 1-1.

The quarter-finals are therefore already within sight—Ukraine will reach the last eight if they beat France in Donetsk, regardless of the result between England and Sweden in Kiev.

However, having doggedly battled knee and back problems in order to prove his fitness for his swansong international tournament, the former AC Milan and Chelsea striker does not want to look too far ahead.

“It's a great day for Ukraine, but we still have two matches to prepare for,” he warned after the win against Sweden.

“Of course we're happy, but we know that we still have two very hard matches against France and England.”

‘Sheva' was involved in a minor car accident as he accompanied his wife to the airport after Monday's game but he was unharmed and took part in training on Wednesday evening at the Valeriy Lobanovsky Stadium in central Kiev.

“Shevchenko is a great striker,” France right-back Mathieu Debuchy told the UEFA website.

“We'll have to mark him really closely because he can turn even the slightest opening into a goal. It's going to be hard because the fans will be 100 percent behind them. We'll need to be on the top of our game.”