Sheva-inspired Dynamo stun Real

Andriy Shevchenko of Dynamo Kyiv
© Getty Images

It was on a chilly March evening in Kiev that they saw the distinguished name of Real Madrid was excluded from the final four of the 1999 UEFA Champions League, with a brace from a burgeoning superstar in Andriy Shevchenko the cause of it.

When the draw paired the then reigning champions with Dynamo Kiev, the Ukrainian side were widely expected to be exiting the competition at the quarter-final stage for the second season running, having again caught the eye.

The goalscoring duo of a 22-year-old Shevchenko and his strike partner Sergei Rebrov had particularly excelled in the group stage, having netted seven times between them. Having got the better of Arsenal, Lens and Panathinaikos to top Group E it was evident the side who were on their way to a seventh successive Ukrainian title could not be totally underestimated.

They even had previous for producing shocks against sides from La Liga, having dismantled an admittedly stuttering Barcelona 3-0 in Kiev, then 4-0 at Camp Nou a season earlier. Even so, a Merengue side containing Fernando Hierro, Roberto Carlos, Fernando Redondo, Clarence Seedorf, Raul and Fernando Morientes was perceived to be too much for the outsiders from eastern Europe.

In Madrid though, things did not go to plan for the favourites when in the second-half, put through by a superb flick-on by Rebrov, Shevchenko was able to accelerate beyond Hierro and stab past Bodo Illgner in the Real goal to silence the Bernabeu. Predrag Mijatovic levelled 13 minutes later, but the champions were now far from on solid ground heading into the return a fortnight later.

It was a cauldron of noise at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in the Ukrainian capital, as 80,000 locals were in fine voice, knowing their away goal in Madrid gave them the upper hand. However, they were forced to endure a tough opening spell, as the visitors looked intent to recover their pride and reach the semi-finals.

Not only Ukraine, but the whole world saw your triumph tonight.

The visitors dominated the opening hour, before a slick interchange unlocked Real against the run of play. Morientes was dispossessed on the edge of the Dynamo box and in the space of seven seconds, four passes had been exchanged and half-time substitute Valentin Belkevich had put Shevchenko through. Bearing down on Illgner's goal with defenders trailing, the home crowd were expectant. A neat shimmy of the shoulders saw the future national icon race beyond the German stopper, only for a hand to catch his ankle and bring the young striker crashing inside the area. Illgner escaped a red, receiving just a caution, and incredibly dived low to his left to keep out Shevchenko's spot-kick. The ball scurried away from his grasp, however, and the rebound was fired home by Shevchenko as brief despair turned to delirium in the stands.

When the second strike of the night did arrive 11 minutes from time, it was one that would not have been out of place back in the Spanish capital. Rebrov did well to hold off the attentions of Ivan Campo, before working enough space for himself to miraculously scoop the ball over the Spaniard and into the path off the onrushing Shevchenko inside the area. He duly held off the last-gasp efforts of Robert Jarni to fire his side to a 3-1 win and into their first European Cup semi-final in 12 years.

There, Dynamo suffered a narrow 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich, but Shevchenko ended the tournament as top scorer, earning him a move to AC Milan, while the victory was arguably the last highlight of their legendary coach Valery Lobanovsky, who died three years later.

The magnitude of that night in Kiev is best captured as jubilant celebrations were engulfing the home dressing room after the final whistle. Ukraine president Leonid Kuchma entered, kissed Lobonovsky on the cheek three times and told the side: “Not only Ukraine, but the whole world saw your triumph tonight.”

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