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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun, 26, 2006

It was like Russian roulette, says Ukraine coach

COLOGNE, June 26 (Reuters) - Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin disappeared to the changing rooms during his team's 3-0 penalty shootout win over Switzerland at the World Cup on Monday.

'I withdrew to the dressing room. I couldn't take it anymore,' he told reporters after their second-round victory set up a quarter-final against Italy.

'The teams were very equal. We just had more luck like Russian roulette,' added Blokhin.

'After extra time I just told my team you have to settle this amongst yourself who is going to take the penalties.'

Striker Andriy Shevchenko missed the first spot kick but Artem Milevsky, Serhiy Rebrov and Oleg Gusev made sure Ukraine went through as the Swiss missed their three penalties.

'It's not important who scored the goals it is the team that is playing,' said Blokhin. 'Shevchenko is getting better game-by-game. He was the leader today.'

Shevchenko, who also had a penalty saved when he played for AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final shootout defeat by Liverpool, was relieved to go through to the last eight.

'I've shot a lot of penalties in my life and every once in a while you miss one,' said the striker who joined Chelsea for an estimated fee of 30 million pounds ($54.62 million) last month.

'It's a big day for the whole team, a big day for Ukraine,' said the striker. 'I'm thrilled to be on this great team. All the players fight for each other. The team has a giant heart.

Asked about the shootout, Shevchenko added: 'I was sure that our goalkeeper (Oleksander Shovkovsky) would hold a few. He's great. We have total faith in him.

Shovkovsky was Man of the Match after producing two penalty saves from substitute Marco Streller and Ricardo Cabanas with Tranquillo Barnetta hitting the bar in between.

'A penalty shootout is a very special thing,' he said. 'I try not to think too hard or too much about it while the action is going on. I just take it as it comes...'

But he declined to reveal the secret to his success, saying: 'I am not going to give away how I saved the penalties'.

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