Mkhtitaryan Fires Shakhtar Clear at the Top
Shakhtar Donetsk’s 5-1 rout of Chernomorets Odessa on Sunday night sees them go three points clear of fierce rivals Dynamo Kiev at the top of the Ukrainian Premier League. Shakhtar’s star Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mhitaryan was once again brilliant. With his hat trick he has now scored an astonishing 10 goals in just six matches, four ahead of his nearest competitor. Shakhtar have been a class above the rest thus far this season, and this match once again demonstrated the gap in quality between the three time reigning champions and the much of the competition. The Brazilian duo of Teixeira and Willian also scored for the Hirnyky, whose scoring record thus far this season is 23 scored and just 3 conceded. The Odessa side, meanwhile, drop three spots to a tie for 10th place.
Dynamo Kyiv dropped points for the first time this season in a 1-0 defeat on the road to Vorskla Poltava. Though prior to this match Dynamo had taken the maximum 15 points, their performances were hardly convincing. Syomin has had trouble integrating many of the new players into the squad, and these were problems were on full display Saturday night in Poltava. New signings Taye Taiwo and Raffael were poor, while Niko Kranjcar did not get any playing time despite starring in Dynamo’s victory last weekend. Credit must be given to Vorskla, who went ahead in the 25th minute through Gromov and defended fiercely for the rest of the 90 minutes, holding out for just their second victory of the season. But the pressure is increasing on Syomin to finally get Dynamo playing as a cohesive unit.
Metalist Kharkiv got back to winning ways with a 3-0 demolishing on the road of bottom side Hoverla Uzhhorod.
Metalist, the perennial third place finishers in the UPL behind the duo of Shakhtar and Dynamo, had been struggling this season and there have been rumours of unrest in the locker room. But this convincing display should ease the nerves of Metalist supporters. A brace from Cristaldo and another goal from Willian Gomes secured the three points for Metalist, who move up to 4th spot. Hoverla, meanwhile, sit pointless at the foot of the table. Though it’s only August, the battle to avoid relegation has begun.
In Friday’s lone fixture Arsenal Kiev defeated Illichivets Mariupol’ 2-1. Maksim Shatskikh opened the scoring in the 11th minute to put the home side ahead, but Mariupol equalized via Okriashvili in the 26th. A late goal from Volodymyr Homenyuk brought the home side the victory, moving them up to into a tie for 5th place. Kryvbas and Dnipro played out the only scoreless draw of the 6th round. Ukraine’s friendly against the Czech Republic on Wednesday may have had an adverse effect on Dnipro; their star striker Roman Zozulya started for the national side but did not start here, perhaps due to fatigue. Kryvbas were impressive, and although they failed to score they threatened Dnipro’s goal on several occasions. Dnipro remain in 3rd place but gain ground on 2ndplace Dynamo, while Kryvbas fall into a tie for 5th.
Metalurh Donetsk and Tavriya drew 1-1 on Saturday night in Donetsk. Both sides have had their fair share of struggles this season, so this was a chance for both to potentially break into the top half of the table. Metalurh appeared to be headed for victory until Ukrainian national team midfielder Serhiy Nazarenko equalized for the visitors in the 89th minute, granting each side a share of the spoils.
Karpaty Lviv defeated Metalurh Zaporizhya 2-1 at home to jump four spots up to 8th place. Pavlo Ksyonz and Oleksandr Kasyan put Karpaty up 2-0, and although Ivan Matyazh got one back for the visitors they could not find the equalizer. With just one point from six matches, Metalurh are early candidates for relegation.
Volyn and Zorya played out a 2-2 draw in Lutsk on Sunday night. The home side will be very disappointed, as they let a 2-0 lead slip away late on, allowing Zorya to escape with a draw that will feel like a victory. Volyn eased off the pressure late and were punished by two goals in the final eight minutes, including a last minute equalizer.
Friday 17th August
Arsenal Kiev 2-1 Illichivets
Saturday 18th August
Hoverla-Zakarpattia 0-3 Metalist
Kryvbas 0-0 Dnipro
Vorskia 1-0 Dynamo Kiev
Metalurh Donetsk 1-1 Tavriya
Sunday 19th August
Karpaty 2-1 Metalurh Zaporizhya
Volyn 2-2 Zorya
Choromorets 1-5 Shakhtar Donetsk