Pitmen dig deep for glory in Istanbul
As the UEFA Cup drew to a close with its 38th and last final FC Shakhtar Donetsk could look to the future and the start of a new era after winning their first European trophy...
As the UEFA Cup drew to a close with its 38th and last final FC Shakhtar Donetsk could look to the future and the start of a new era after winning their first European trophy, securing Ukraine`s maiden continental silverware side since independence in 1991.
Victory for UkraineShakhtar fans at the ground wore the national colours, yellow and blue flags draped over their bright orange shirts and scarves. And with president Viktor Yushchenko in attendance there was no question that a tense 2-1 victory against Werder Bremen was cause for celebration for more than just the fans of the Pitmen. Football Federation of Ukraine president Grigoriy Surkis had said football there is enjoying a renaissance after three local sides – FC Dynamo Kyiv, FC Metalist Kharkiv and Shakhtar – had reached the last 16. Shakhtar are now in the vanguard. They have never reached the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League, and will hope this victory provides them with the experience and confidence to take that step up next season. Certainly it seems that Mircea Lucescu has built a side that can use this victory as a springboard for further success. It was a victory for Ukraine, made in Brazil.
Made in BrazilTalk before the game had been focused on the one Brazilian who was certain not to play, Bremen`s suspended Diego. By the end it was about match-winner Jadson. Lucescu had selected no fewer than five Brazilians in his team – compared to three Ukrainians – and they ultimately proved the difference, Luiz Adriano and Jadson, the latter in extra time, scoring the goals that won the UEFA Cup. Of the 14 goals Shakhtar scored in the competition en route to victory in Istanbul, 12 came from Brazilians while in the UEFA Champions League group stage eight of their eleven strikes came from either Fernandinho, Jadson, Ilsinho, Willian or Adriano.
Dig for victoryBut the team from the Donbass mining district of Ukraine had to dig deep for victory, with Ukrainian Olexandr Gladkiy and Serbian Igor Duljaj coming on to shore things up as Lucescu`s side tired in extra time. As Bremen and Shakhtar contested the last edition of the UEFA Cup perhaps it was fitting that they should combine to push the competition to its limit. Both were attempting to win the trophy for the first time and in the process become the last side to do so in its current guise before the competition transforms into the UEFA Europa League next season. Having waited this long to get here, they stretched the tension at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium to the maximum. The release for Shakhtar and Ukraine at the final whistle was immense.