The legendary striker produced a match-winning double to give the co-hosts a dream start to their Euro 2012 campaign in a 2-1 victory over Sweden
It was a dream come true for Andriy Shevchenko.
On Monday morning there were serious doubts over whether the legendary veteran would even start in the game he had counted down to for five long years.
| SHEVCHENKO STARS
|55'||GOAL! Whatever Ibrahimovic can do, Shevchenko can do also as he gets his head to a cross from the right by Yarmolenko to set the home fans wild and level the game up.|
| WINNING GOAL
|61'||GOAL! Ukraine don't have to wait any longer to take the lead, as the hero of Kiev, Shevchenko gets his head to the corner at the near post and fires home a bullet of a header.|
The newspapers predicted that Marko Devych would begin as Ukraine's lone striker in their opening Group D game against Sweden, but in the end coach Oleg Blokhin trusted his most celebrated star.
It was a fascinating battle in Kiev. The AC Milan superstar of the past took the field against the Rossoneri leader of the present. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a very good game, and in the first half it looked like he was gradually winning it.
Sheva didn't receive enough balls, and squandered the best chance that fell to him, shooting wide when he should have given the ball to Andriy Yarmolenko. Zlatan, on the other hand, went agonizingly close with a great header, and terrorised the Ukrainian defence.
This pattern continued when the Malmo-born superstar opened the scoring in the 52nd minute. But eventually is was to be one of Shevchenko's greatest nights ever.
He took a very painful knock to the knee from Andreas Granqvist early on, but recovered to head home the equaliser almost immediately after Zlatan's goal, following a perfect ball by Yarmolenko.
The Ukraine winger is rumoured to be an AC Milan target, and he really is a fascinating prospect. Perhaps Sheva's heir in the making. The future belongs to him, but the present is still Shevchenko's.
And then came the 62nd minute. Of all people, it was Zlatan who guarded Sheva at a corner. He failed spectacularly as the 2004 Ballon d'Or winner nipped in front of him at the near post.
Another header, like in the great days at San Siro, when he was the most feared striker in the world. It is as if his destiny was to celebrate such an amazing brace at the age of almost 36.
Oleg Blokhin was jumping on the bench, and he probably knew that another battle was over. The hidden rivalry between Blokhin himself and Shevchenko for the right to be remembered as the best Ukrainian footballer of all time might have been decided this evening in Kiev.