SHAKHTAR VICTORIOUS IN UKRAINIAN DERBY
Though it is just the first week of September, is it too late to declare that the 2012-13 Ukrainian Premier League season done and dusted? Shakhtar Donetsk, the three time defending champions, beat rivals and main title contenders Dynamo 3-1 on Sunday night to move six points clear at the top. Central defender Oleksandr Kucher was the author of an unlikely brace of goals for the home side on either side of halftime, and Adriano sealed the victory with a late stunner. Andriy Yarmolenko scored the lone goal for the visitors, an equalizer on the stroke of half time, but it was not enough. This match illustrated the vast gap between the two sides. But the gap is not necessarily one of quality; Dynamo have a fine group of players and have made some astute signings this summer. But whereas Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu has been at the club since 2004 and has built a proper team, Dynamo lack cohesiveness and resemble a group of talented players going nowhere, quickly. Manager Yuri Syomin’s days appear numbered, even if qualification for the Champions League has somewhat alleviated the pressure.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk missed a golden opportunity to leapfrog Dynamo into second place after throwing away a 2-0 lead at Vorskla. Denis Oliynik put Dnipro up 1-0 in the 19th minute and Giuliano doubled it in the 53rd. Dnipro attempted to close up shop and hold out for the victory, but their defensive approach backfired when Yevhen Selin got one back for the home side in the 80th minute and Ahmed Januzi equalized three minutes later. This is the second match in a row in which Dnipro blew a 2-0 lead; manager Juande Ramos will be concerned with his side’s inability to close out matches. Dnipro pull into a tie for second with this result, while Vorskla move up one position to 12th.
The shock of the eighth round of matches was undoubtedly Volyn’s 2-1 victory over Metalist Kharkiv. Metalist entered the match in fourth place and are perennial also-rans in the UPL, not quite able to challenge the Shakhtar-Dynamo hegemony but still a cut above the rest; Ukraine’s Valencia, if you will. So it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 18th through Willian Gomes. But new signing Eric Bicfalvi equalized for the home side just two minutes later, and fellow newcomer Danijel Subotic put the hosts in front for good in the 37th. It’s an impressive victory for Volyn, who move up two spots in the table.
In a minor upset Hoverla finally got their first points of the season with a 2-1 home victory over Tavriya. Hoverla’s performances as a whole have not been awful; they just always managed to find a way to lose, sometimes snatching defeat away from the jaws of victory. Goals from Mishchenko and Odonkor gave Hoverla the 2-0 lead in the first half, while all Tavriya could manage was a consolation deep in 2nd half stoppage time. Hoverla move up from the foot of the table into 15th with their first victory.
Illichivets leapfrogged their hosts with a 2-1 victory on the road over Kryvbas. Kravchenko and Targamadze scored for the visitors, and while Bartulovic was able to get a goal back for the home side they could not find the equalizer. With this defeat Kryvbas drop from 7th to 10th spot, while Illichivets jump up two places to 6th.
Metalurh Donetsk left Lviv with three points following a 1-0 victory at Karpaty. Karpaty were forced to play most of the match with ten men after striker Oleksandr Kasyan was sent off for a rash challenge after just 12 minutes. This is the latest in a string of red cards for Karpaty, who have now had to finish their last three matches without eleven men on the pitch, a potentially worrying pattern of disciplinary problems. Karpaty played well despite the man disadvantage, but eventually Metalurh did capitalize through Junior Moraes in the 59th minute of play and held on for all three points.
Chornomorets fought back from behind to defeat Zorya 2-1. Pavlo Khudzik had given the visitors the lead in the 29th, but the hosts got the equalizer from Anatoliy Didenko in the 41st, and then went ahead in the 56th through Lucian Burdujan. With the victory the Odessa club move up to 11th place, while Zorya drop two spots to seventh.
Metalurh Zaporizhya are now in the unfortunate position of propping up the table after a 3-0 defeat away at Arsenal Kiev on Sunday night. Kovpak, Adiyiah, and Shatskikh scored for the home side, for whom this was a relatively easy affair. Metalurh are now the only team in the league without a victory.
Friday 31st August
Hoverla-Zakarpattia 2-1 Tavriya
Saturday 1st September
Kryvbas 1-2 Illichivets
Karpaty 0-1 Metalurh Donetsk
Choronomorets 2-1 Zorya
Sunday 2nd September
Vorskia 2-2 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Volyn 2-1 Metalist
Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 Dynamo Kiev
Arsenal Kiev 0-0 Metalurh Zaporizhya