Andriy Shevchenko is hoping that AC Milan's scoring fortunes and his own personal duel with Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Grégory Coupet take a turn for the better when the two sides meet in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday night. "Hopefully, it will be third time lucky," he said.
Shevchenko was denied twice in the first half of a pulsating first leg by the French international, who kept his team in the competition with some inspired shot-stopping. The Milan striker, though, was unsurprised by Coupet's Stade Gerland heroics as he was expecting a resilient display from the four-time Ligue 1 champions. "It was no surprise at all because I already knew Lyon were a good side and Coupet was a great goalkeeper," he said.
Tournament hot shot
"He saved two efforts of mine with his feet and they were particularly good saves. The other difference he made was that he was very quick coming off his line. He narrowed the angle very quickly and was so fast coming out that he prevented me making the best decision I could in the short space of time available to shoot." It is not often that the Ukrainian international is stopped from doing what he does best - he is the current tournament's top marksman with eight goals and the third-leading UEFA Champions League goalscorer with 42 to his name.
As if those statistics were not breathtaking enough, 'Sheva' is also four goals short of Ruud van Nistelrooij's record-breaking seasonal tally of 2002/03 - not that he is counting. "I don't even know how many Van Nistelrooij scored," he said, before being informed by an amused pressroom. "The most important thing is for someone to score on Tuesday. Obviously, if I do, I will be very happy but the main thing is for us to go through regardless of who gets the goals."
Third time lucky
Scoring is something Milan have failed to do for two matches now, but the 29-year-old insists there is no cause for alarm. "We are not concerned at all. We have created a good number of chances and, to be honest, I think we've just been a bit unlucky not to have scored. So long as we keep making opportunities, we know we will score. Hopefully, it will be third time lucky."
Shevchenko knows all about the luck of the tournament, having taken both the winning and losing penalties in recent UEFA Champions League finals, but he stresses that he only ever looks forward. "I don't dwell on the past. Football consists of winning matches and losing them. Every season is a different story. Unfortunately, last year we lost the final but that's the way it goes - we've won it in the past too.
It would be a dream to reach the final in Paris and make amends for last year, but this is a different season and we are just focused on our campaign."
The former FC Dynamo Kyiv man is so forward-thinking he even reiterates that he would like to end his career with the Rossoneri, scotching rumours of a possible move to Chelsea FC: "I have always said I would like to stay here for the rest of my career, but it doesn't just depend on me. Milan are a big club and one day, if they decide I am no longer at the height of my powers, they may dispense with me and that's their prerogative."
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