Co-host Ukraine in dreamland after Euro 2012 win

Car horns blared in Ukraine, fans chanted in the streets and

newspapers glorified Andriy Shevchenko for the team’s comeback 2-1

win against Sweden.

The 35-year-old Shevchenko scored both goals after Ukraine was

down 1-0 to give the co-host a perfect start to the European

Championship. Ukraine had been considered the underdog in Group D,

but is now top after favorites France and England drew 1-1 in

Monday’s early match.

Shevchenko’s performance, reminiscent of his glory days,

increased his status as a national icon.

”SHEVAAAAA! UKRAINAAA!” screamed the front page of Segodnya,

one of the country’s top-telling tabloids, showing a photograph of

Shevchenko cheering and clenching his fists.

”There it is! What we wanted, what seemed like a dream became

reality,” the newspaper wrote. ”Ukraine started with a win. We’re

the group leaders! It’s going to get tougher, but that’s

later.”

Many worried that the local interest in the tournament would die

out quickly if Ukraine got off to a poor start.

Instead, the party is likely to only get bigger.

Several hours after the game, hundreds of fans draped in the

national team’s yellow and blue colors thronged in the streets of

Kiev and downtown bars chanting ”Ukra-ina, Ukra-ina,” and pumping

fists and waving flags from car windows.

Ukraine still has two tough games against France and England

coming up, but has the early edge. And Shevchenko, of course,

provided the perfect story line.

Dismissed by many as too old and too slow, ”Sheva” showed off

his scorer’s instinct in the area by netting two great headers in

the second half, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had given Sweden the

lead.

They were the type of goals he scored routinely for Milan in his

prime, but the veteran is now playing for Dynamo Kiev and had not

put in a performance like that on the international stage for

several years.

”The main veteran of our team was the principal hero of today’s

game,” popular daily Fakty said.

Associated Press writer James Marson contributed to this

report.