The Dutch nemesis as Ukraine beat the Netherlands 2-1 earlier in the tournament, Artem Milevskiy will accept nothing less than "a win and a title" when the teams meet again in Sunday's UEFA European Under-21 Championship final.
Milevskiy has two goals and two man-of-the-match trophies to show for his four games so far in Portugal, although his latest appearance was curtailed by a blow to the left side of his body. The sight of the striker limping off after just 19 minutes of the semi-final victory against Serbia and Montenegro will have worried Ukraine supporters, although coach Olexiy Mykhaylychenko provided reassurance yesterday by confirming that the 21-year-old was fit to play in Porto tonight.
The FC Dynamo Kyiv starlet is desperate to add to his favourite moment in the championship to date – "my penalty against the Dutch" – with "a win and a title, nothing else". "I would give anything for it," Milevskiy told uefa.com. "Reaching the final is a major achievement in itself, but if we actually win the cup, it will be absolutely massive. I cannot find words for the emotions we are feeling – except to say we are very happy for everyone and very proud."
Milevskiy has almost seen it all before. He and six others from Mykhaylychenko's squad were in the Ukraine team who were semi-finalists at the UEFA European U19 Championship two years ago. "Our coach Pavlo Yakovenko did a great job with us then and the result is the success we are achieving now. Mykhaylychenko has brought us even closer together and we are an absolutely crazy team – we fight for one another and this is the most important thing in football."
They are a group of players fuelled both by their opening-day win against the Netherlands and by their coach's own belief. "It was a really important match and it gave us all self-confidence. Mykhaylychenko had told us beforehand, 'I don't know about you, but I have come here to win.' I laughed to myself at the time but now I see he was right. We are in the final, just one step away from the title.
Home from home
"The gaffer's coaching experience is not that big, but we qualified from the group and produced a last-gasp win against Belgium in the play-offs under him. He gives us confidence and that is very important. Everyone believes in themselves. That is why we have a great chance of winning the final." Thousands of Portugal-based Ukrainians have faith in the Mykhaylychenko project too. "We knew there would be a lot of Ukrainians here," Milevskiy explained. "But when the scoreboard showed there were 17,357 people at the Serbia and Montenegro match, I knew that about 17,000 were supporting us. It was even more noticeable during the penalty shoot-out. They helped us a lot."
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