Men's Team

Zinchenko ready to put friendships aside ahead of England clash

Zinchenko ready to put friendships aside ahead of England clash
Oleksandr Zinchenko insists he won’t be distracted by facing four of his City teammates when Ukraine play England for a spot in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

The City man’s match-winning performance helped his home nation to their first ever last eight berth at the European Championships, pitching in with the game’s opening goal and a dramatic 121st-minute assist in their 2-1 extra time win over Sweden.

Their reward is a clash with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions, who booked their place in Rome’s Saturday showdown with a 2-0 triumph over Germany.

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Spearheaded by Raheem Sterling’s three Euro 2020 strikes thus far and boasting further City stars in John Stones, Kyle Walker and Phil Foden, England are packed to the rafters with familiar faces for Zinchenko.

But the 24-year-old, while conceding that he’s looking forward to catching up with his teammates ahead of kick-off, stressed that friendships will go out of the window once the game gets underway.

“I will be so happy to see my teammates but, as soon as we go on the pitch, there are no friends,” he admitted.

"I can’t wait for this game. Today I would love to celebrate this achievement (reaching Euro 2020 quarter-finals) but from tomorrow we are going to start thinking about another game.”

Ukraine’s last gasp triumph at Hampden Park in the last 16 against Sweden was as dramatic as it was historic for the Eastern European nation.

Never before had Andriy Shevchenko’s side won a knockout fixture at the European Championships, with progression from the group stages alone previously uncharted territory.

Nonetheless, victory in Glasgow saw them break new ground and they’ll be keen to continue their unprecedented Euro 2020 march against Gareth Southgate’s side on Saturday 3 July.

For Zinchenko, while the 2-1 win over the Swedes was something worth savouring, he declared that now is not the time for him and his national teammates to rest on their laurels.

He reflected: “It’s unbelievable emotions and today I’d love to celebrate but already from tomorrow we have to think about another game, because we can do something more.

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“We are writing history for the whole country, thank you (to the fans) for the support, the people deserve it.

“It was a tough game, we knew Sweden were a great team. They organise well defensively and have got a lot of quality players.

“The numbers speak for themselves, they finished first in a tough Group (E) ahead of Spain.

“I’m so proud that I am wearing this shirt. Since I started to play for the national team, every game is something special. This feeling is something else.”

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