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Euro 2012 Co-Host Ukraine Wins First Game

Swedish fans ahead of their team's game against Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine in Kyiv on June 11.
Ukraine has got off to a winning start at the Euro 2012 soccer championship.

The Ukrainians got two goals minutes apart in the second half from 35-year-old Ukrainian legend Andriy Shevchenko to beat Sweden in Kyiv in front of 64,000 fans.

Sweden had taken the lead against the run of play on a goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The victory sparked celebrations in Kyiv and across Ukraine.

"Ukraine is an unpredictable country but everybody knows it has the potential, and we can win," said Marina amid the din of cheering fans in downtown Kyiv.

In the earlier Group D game in Donetsk, France and England played to a 1-1 tie.

Ukraine, playing it is first-ever European championship and considered the weakest team in Group D, now finds itself sitting atop the group.

Ukraine is co-hosting the Euro 2012 championships along with neighboring Poland.

The run-up to the tournament has been overshadowed by fears over racism and the jailing of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ahead of Ukraine's game against Sweden, supporters of Tymoshenko scuffled with police not far from Olympic Stadium, site of the match.

Riot police surrounded protesters who held photographs of Tymoshenko that read "not guilty."

Ukrainian parliament deputy Yuriy Odarchenko criticized what he called the heavy-handed police reaction to the protest.

"Friends, look what is going on here! They have torn apart our posters where we were criticizing [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych. And they locked us here with this [police] cordon," Odarchenko said as protesters and police looked on.

"Look, if they dare to put their hands on a deputy, what then will they do with a regular Ukrainian citizen?"

On June 12, the second round of games in Euro 2012 begins. After dropping their first game to Russia 4-1, the Czech Republic will be looking to improve against Greece.

Meanwhile, co-host Poland square off against Russia in a game that officials fear could spark fan violence.

Polish officials are concerned a planned march by Russian fans through the streets of the Polish capital could lead to scuffles with Poles, who have a painful history and often tense relations with their eastern neighbors.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP