Friday, June 09, 2006

World-Shevchenko scores on Ukraine return

LUXEMBOURG, June 8 (Reuters) - Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko gave his side a huge World Cup boost on Thursday, scoring as a second-half substitute in his first game for a month out with a knee injury.
Shevchenko, the 2004 European Player of the Year, featured for 30 minutes as Ukraine defeated Luxembourg 3-0 in their final warm-up.
The 29-year-old, one of the most feared strikers in world football, appeared to show no ill effects from the injury, sustained while playing for AC Milan, which has forced him to miss friendlies against Costa Rica, Italy and Libya.
He tapped in the easiest of chances from a deflected pass as Ukraine scored twice in the final seven minutes for a somewhat flattering victory against a team ranked 152nd in the world.
Shevchenko entered the fray just minutes after pony-tailed striker Andriy Voronin, also a substitute, had broken the deadlock after an insipid first half at the Stade Jose Barthel.
Voronin despatched a clinical right-foot shot past Jonathan Joubert to cheer a 100-strong band of Ukraine fans who had grown frustrated by their side's lacklustre opening 45 minutes.
Another substitute, Maxim Kalinichenko, added a third goal as Luxembourg tired. World Cup debutants Ukraine open their Group H campaign on June 14 against Spain in Leipzig. Ukraine, the first European side to secure qualification for Germany, are based in Potsdam, near Berlin, for the opening stage of the month-long tournament. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia make up Group H.

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