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Zinchenko calls on Ukraine to play ‘game of their lives’

Oleksandr Zinchenko said Ukraine will need to play the “game of their lives” to beat England in Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final in Rome. 

The Manchester City player scored and then set up Artem Dovbyk’s last-gasp winner as Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 after extra time in the last 16.

Ukraine have matched their run to the last eight of the 2006 World Cup, when coach Andriy Shevchenko was the team’s star striker, and hope to reach a first semi-final at a major tournament.

“We will try to surprise them. Of course we realise that to get through everyone will probably need to play the best game of their lives,” Zinchenko told Friday’s news conference.

England defeated old rivals Germany in a knockout tie for the first time since the 1966 World Cup final, and Gareth Southgate’s team are looking to end a 55-year wait for silverware.

Zinchenko could come up against a number of his City team-mates at the Stadio Olimpico, including Raheem Sterling who has scored three of England’s four goals so far.

“The numbers speak for themselves. The fact that England haven’t conceded a goal yet… they’ve played very well in defence but I think there are no perfect teams, every team has weaknesses,” he said.

Ukraine scraped through to the knockout phase as the lowest-ranked of the four third-placed teams to advance, having lost two of their three group games to the Netherlands and Austria.

“We fully understand who we will be playing against tomorrow. I think (England) are one of the best teams, and at this Euro one of the most balanced teams. They have amazing players,” said Shevchenko.

“Tomorrow will be the hardest game for us. I know how difficult it will be for us, but I know our players have character and we’ll try to show it.”

Shevchenko also confirmed captain Andriy Yarmolenko, of Premier League club West Ham, would be fit for the game after he was replaced by Dovbyk during extra time on Tuesday.

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