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Season review: Ukraine

Published: Thursday 10 June 2010, 17.59CET
The campaign in Ukraine was a tale of two comebacks: FC Shakhtar Donetsk mounting one to claim a fifth Premier League title and FC Tavriya Simferopol resisting another to lift the cup.
by Igor Linnyk
from Kyiv
Season review: Ukraine
Luis Adriano celebrates for Shakhtar ©Yevhen Kraws
Published: Thursday 10 June 2010, 17.59CET

Season review: Ukraine

The campaign in Ukraine was a tale of two comebacks: FC Shakhtar Donetsk mounting one to claim a fifth Premier League title and FC Tavriya Simferopol resisting another to lift the cup.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk recovered from an insipid start to the season to claim a fifth Premier League title in stunning style, FC Dynamo Kyiv unable to resist their relentless form after the winter break. FC Tavriya Simferopol responded better to a comeback in the Ukrainian Cup, though, as they clinched only their second major honour.

Champions: FC Shakhtar Donetsk
Mircea Lucescu's fourth league title in his six seasons in Ukraine was perhaps his most rewarding. Seven points behind Dynamo Kyiv midway through the season, Shakhtar were irresistible after the winter break. As Dynamo struggled to adapt to life without Olexandr Aliyev following the midfielder's move to FC Lokomotiv Moskva, the Pitmen went from strength to strength and won at a canter. A run of 12 wins in 13 games meant they finished six points clear.

Cup final: SC Tavriya Simferopol 3-2 FC Metalurh Donetsk (aet)
Lucky Idahor lived up to his name as his header at the start of extra time sealed Tavriya's second major trophy after their championship-winning season of 1992. Cruising at half-time, the Crimean side squandered a two-goal lead but the final swung back in their favour when Saša Djuričić was sent off. Moment later, Nigerian striker Idahor struck.

European places*
FC Shakhtar Donetsk – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Dynamo Kyiv – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
SC Tavriya Simferopol – UEFA Europa League play-offs
FC Metalist Kharkiv – UEFA Europa League play-offs
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Karpaty Lviv – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
* Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Fernandinho (FC Shakhtar Donetsk)
"I'm sure Fernandinho is the best Brazilian defensive midfielder in Europe," Lucescu said after learning of his star player's omission from Brazil's FIFA World Cup squad. "There's no doubt he would immediately be called up if he moved to a top European league." Lucescu was not overstating the 25-year-old's case based on this season, Fernandinho proving a true leader at both ends of the pitch.

One to watch: Douglas Costa (FC Shakhtar Donetsk)
Shakhtar look to have unearthed another Brazilian gem in Douglas. A winter signing from Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense, the 19-year-old attacker took a bit of time to bed down but showed flashes of real promise with five goals in 13 league games.

Surprise package: FC Karpaty Lviv
Belarussian coach Oleg Kononov is building impressive foundations in Lviv. Ninth in his first season, the 44-year-old guided a side full of youthful promise to fifth this term, sealing a return to UEFA club competition after an 11-year absence. Karpaty's academy is one of the strongest in Ukraine and it is no coincidence that the club pipped Shakhtar and Dynamo to win the reserve league.

Leading scorer: Artem Milevskiy, FC Dynamo Kyiv (17)

Relegated: FC Chornomorets Odesa, FC Zakarpattya Uzhhorod

Promoted: PFC Sevastopol, SC Volyn Lutsk

Number: 10
Andriy Shevchenko's strike in Dynamo Kyiv's 3-1 victory against FC Metalurh Donetsk on 31 August came ten years and 96 days after his last goal for the club.

Quote:
"It really is a real sin to play so badly at such a nice arena. You know, I even put on a new suit and new shoes. All the players asked me during the break if we can play three halves here."
Coach Igor Gamula after his Zakarpattya side failed to impress in a 1-0 defeat by Shakhtar at the new Donbass Arena.

Last updated: 21/12/11 12.40CET

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