Ukraine had reached the quarterfinals of the European Championship with two losses and the worst record of the advancing teams.
And now the quarterfinals.
Ukraine eliminated previously undefeated Sweden 2-1 on Tuesday with a goal at the end of overtime by a player who was left on the bench for the entire group stage. Reserve Artem Dovbik leaned low to direct a header from Alexander Zinchenko’s cross past goalkeeper Robin Olsen.
This was the 24-year-old striker’s first goal for the national team.
Ukraine’s biggest striker, current coach Andrei Shevchenko, is running to the sidelines to celebrate with his players, who will now head to Rome to face England on Saturday.
Zinchenko also scored on the day his Manchester City team-mate Rahim Sterling received one in England’s 2-0 victory over Germany. Zinchenko gave Ukraine the lead in the 27th minute when he struck with a low shot created by a clever pass from captain Andriy Yarmolenko.
Emil Forsberg’s deflected shot outside the zone in the 43rd minute equalized for Sweden. It was his fourth goal at Euro 2020, but the fifth tournament, which connected him to lead, slipped away in the second half, despite the devastating blows from the crossbar.
“It’s a very bitter defeat,” said Sweden coach Jane Anderson. “We had four really great chances in the second half. I felt that in the end we would celebrate. “
Anderson quoted the inertial change in overtime as Sweden defender Marcus Danielson was sent off in the 98th minute to be followed by a deflected challenge from reserve Artem Besedin.
The game lost all rhythm and flow in scarce extra periods of time, littered with fouls, injuries and a dispute between the two coaches.
“It was a really difficult game,” said Shevchenko. “Everyone knew the prize was great in the end. We had to be strong and the players showed it today.”
Anderson said he collided with Shevchenko because “I felt they were diving a little towards the end.”
Just to get to Glasgow, the Ukrainians needed a service from Sweden to move on because they lost two group matches and had a negative goal difference. After losing to Austria last week, Ukraine would have been absent if Poland had beaten Sweden two days later. Sweden won the match 3-2, with Forsberg scoring twice.
No team has ever won a European Championship knockout game in the previous eight combined tournaments. Both often cautious teams played more freely in the wide open 90 minutes, trying to take advantage of a chance for a deep break in perhaps the weaker half of the tie.
The winner between Ukraine and England will play in the semifinals with Denmark or the Czech Republic.
The key founder of Ukraine was Yarmolenko, who plays for West Ham in England. To set Zinchenko’s goal, Yarmolenko used the outside of his preferred left foot to pass a curling pass through seven defenders to their blind side in the penalty area.
After scoring with the first shot, Zinchenko ran a finger to his lips in a gesture that said he was telling critics to be quiet.
“In the first three games we got a lot of criticism, which I think we deserve,” he said through an interpreter. “I have shown that they must support us.”
Yarmolenko looked exhausted long before he was taken out for the last long period, making way for Dovbik to enter.