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Season review: Ukraine

Published: Friday 27 May 2011, 11.34CET
FC Shakhtar Donetsk celebrated their 75th anniversary in fine style by winning the domestic double and reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
by Kostyantyn Patkevich
from Kyiv
Season review: Ukraine
It was a season of celebrations for Shakhtar in the year of their 75th anniversary ©Olexandr Zadiraka
Published: Friday 27 May 2011, 11.34CET

Season review: Ukraine

FC Shakhtar Donetsk celebrated their 75th anniversary in fine style by winning the domestic double and reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time.

There was no stopping the FC Shakhtar Donetsk vintage of 2010/11 in Ukraine, Mircea Lucescu's exceptional side wrapping up the third domestic double of their history to mark the club's 75th anniversary in fitting fashion. Shakhtar won the league with two matches to spare before defeating FC Dynamo Kyiv in the Ukrainian Cup final.

Having also seen his team reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, the Pitmen's ambitious president Rinat Akhmetov is setting his sights on winning Europe's most prestigious club prize. The emergence of young talent Bohdan Butko at FC Volyn Lutsk and the surprising form of FC Obolon Kyiv also took the eye this season.

Champions: FC Shakhtar Donetsk
The Donbass outfit moved to the top of the standings after a 1-0 win against FC Karpaty Lviv in August and remained there until the very end. Shakhtar even boasted a 12-point advantage over stuttering Dynamo at the winter break, taking full advantage of their arch-rivals' difficulties. A series of disappointing results for Dynamo led the departure of coach Valeri Gazzaev, and it was only when Yuri Semin took over from caretaker boss Oleh Luzhny that their form picked up again.

Semin's charges did manage to defeat the Pitmen in the latter part of the campaign, yet that result merely delayed Shakhtar's celebrations by a week as a 2-0 triumph over FC Metalurh Donetsk at a sold-out Donbass Arena clinched their sixth Ukrainian crown. "I hope our fans will forgive us for the Dynamo defeat," said defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy after helping Shakhtar finish seven points clear of second-placed Dynamo.

Cup final: FC Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 FC Dynamo Kyiv
Shakhtar won the Ukrainian Cup for a seventh time after grinding out victory against Dynamo. Second-half goals from Eduardo, who was later sent off, and Luiz Adriano ensured the capital club ended their campaign empty-handed. "This season belongs to us," said an ecstatic Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna, whose team conceded only one goal in six cup games. "We claimed the title, the cup and reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals on the club's 75th anniversary. That's just incredible."

European places*
FC Shakhtar Donetsk – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Dynamo Kyiv – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC Metalist Kharkiv – UEFA Europa League play-off round
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Karpaty Lviv – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FC Vorskla Poltava – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Yaroslav Rakitskiy (FC Shakhtar Donetsk)
Undoubtedly a strong contender for the official award, Rakitskiy enjoyed a fine season. Shakhtar's Brazilian attackers may have made more headlines, yet the team's outstanding defence provided the foundations for the club's success. At 21, Ukrainian international Rakitskiy confirmed his talent with a wonderfully consistent campaign, the fierce tackler forming a watertight partnership with Dmytro Chygrynskiy at centre-back.

One to watch: Bohdan Butko (FC Volyn Lutsk)
Butko has emerged as one of the most exciting young talents in Ukraine after a fine campaign operating on the right side of Volyn's defence or midfield. The pacy 20-year-old joined on loan from Shakhtar seeking more first-team football, and the Under-21 international got exactly that, making 26 league appearances and scoring three goals.

Surprise package: FC Obolon Kyiv
Obolon achieved their objective of avoiding relegation with some ease and even managed to ruffle the feathers of Ukraine's big guns. Indeed, Serhiy Kovalets' uninhibited team took ten points from a possible 12 in their matches against Shakhtar and Dynamo, becoming the first club to triumph at the Donbass Arena.

Number: 5
Metalist finished third behind Dynamo and Shakhtar for the fifth year running. Myron Markevich's men looked capable of stealing in to second spot at times, but ultimately finished five points adrift of runners-up Dynamo.

Leading scorer: Yevhen Seleznyov (FC Shakhtar Donetsk) 17

Relegated: PFC Sevastopol, FC Metalurh Zaporizhya

Promoted: FC Aleksandriya, FC Chornomorets Odesa

Quote
"I've always underlined that the title is not the main goal. The title is a thing that gives us a place in the UEFA Champions League. The serious work is only just beginning. It's really important for us to do well in Europe and show our best there. I believe, step by step, we'll come to win the UEFA Champions League."
Shakhtar president Rinat Akhmetov

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.24CET

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