The perennial powerhouses of Ukrainian football both continued their perfect starts and remained deadlocked at the top of the table after the fifth round of matches. Shakthar Donetsk, the three time defending champions, have been in sizzling form as of late and easily dispatched Vorskla Poltava 4-1. The Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan bagged a brace, and Marko Devic and Alex Teixeira each scored once for the ‘Hirnyky,’ as the Donetsk side is known. Shakhtar have won their first five matches while scoring 18 goals and conceding just 2, and are top of the table on goal difference. Albanian striker Ahmed Januzi scored for Vorskla, who are third from bottom with just three points thus far.
Though Dynamo have been keeping up the pace with their bitter rivals, their displays so far have been far from convincing. In all but one of their fixtures, the game winning goal came after 80 minutes and they have been overly reliant on Nigerian striker Ideye Brown. Head coach Yuri Syomin has not been in able to find an ideal formation incorporating all the team’s summer acqusitions. But on Sunday night in Kyiv, Dynamo finally seemed to find their groove. Summer signing Niko Kranjcar scored twice, as did Brown, who leads the goalscoring charts, and Dynamo ran out 4-1 winners over Volyn Lutsk. Kranjcar has been one of the players visibly struggling, so for him it was a breakthrough performance. Nevertheless, he was the first man subbed off, so Syomin must still be considering his options. The visitors dropped down to 8th place.
Elsewhere, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk replicated the performances of their more illustrious rivals, defeating cellar-dwellers Hoverla 4-1. Dnipro, who are coached by Spanish manager Juande Ramos, have been in fine form and managed to remain just two points behind the leaders with and impressive victory at home. Ramos must be particularly pleased with the play of 22 year old striker Roman Zozulya, who scored twice for Dnipro. Hoverla remain stuck at the foot of the table, and with zero points from five matches look set for a long season fighting to avoid the drop.
Metalist Kharkiv, the side that has finished in third place behind Shakhtar and Dynamo for the past five seasons and are regular participants in European competition, surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to Arsenal Kyiv. Metalist went down after just eleven minutes to a goal from Arsenal’s Oleksandr Kovpak and were never able to recover. Myron Markevich’s side are now seven points off the pace, while Arsenal moved up to a tie for 7th after their second victory of the season.
Tavriya Simferopol also registered their second win of the season with a narrow 1-0 win at home over Metalurh Zaporizhya in Friday’s only fixture. Tavriya were far from convincing for most of the match, but a 63rd minute strike from Ukrainian national team midfielder Serhiy Nazarenko was enough to give the Crimean side the three points and move them up to 11th in the table.
Kryvbas continued their surprising start with a 1-0 victory on the road over Zorya of Luhansk. Kryvbas, who were in disarray just before the beginning of the season and were widely regarded as relegation fodder, are instead tied for fourth place with three victories in their first five matches; their only dropped points have been narrow 1-0 losses to both Dynamo and Shahktar. Zorya were never able to penetrate the goal of Kryvbas keeper Artem Shtanko, but still looked impressive in defeat. They too, have been a surprise package in the early going, and are also tied for fourth place along with the visitors.
Chornomorets and Karpaty played out the only draw of the fifth round. The hosts took the lead after just three minutes of play but Karpay equalized seven minutes later through Lucas. The visitors from Lviv were the more energetic side for the remainder of the 90 minutes, but were unable to break the deadlock.
To round things up, Metalurh Donetsk beat Illichivets Mariupol 1-0 on the road, their first victory of the season. Metalurh, fresh off elimination from the Europa League, took the lead through Volovik in the 53rd minute and never relinquished it after that. The season has thus far been a disappointing one for the second team in Donetsk, with just one point from the first four matches, but this result will be sure to lift their spirits.
Friday 10th August
Tavriya 1-0 Metalurg Zaporizhya
Saturday 11th August
Zorya 0-1 Kryvbas
Dnipro 4-1 Hoverla-Zakarpattia
Choronomorets 1-1 Karpaty
Sunday 12th August
Dynamo Kyiv 4-1 Volyn
Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 Vorskla
Metalist 0-1 Arsenal Kyiv
Illichivets 0-1 Metalurh Donetsk