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Season review: Ukraine

Published: Wednesday 5 June 2013, 9.36CET
FC Shakhtar Donetsk cemented their place as the dominant force in Ukraine with a third straight domestic double, as coach Mircea Lucescu took his personal haul to 26 trophies.
by Ihor Linnyk
Season review: Ukraine
Shakhtar proved unstoppable across all competitions in Ukraine ©Oleksandr Zadiraka
Published: Wednesday 5 June 2013, 9.36CET

Season review: Ukraine

FC Shakhtar Donetsk cemented their place as the dominant force in Ukraine with a third straight domestic double, as coach Mircea Lucescu took his personal haul to 26 trophies.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk proved unstoppable in Ukraine as they claimed all three domestic trophies, becoming league champions for a fourth successive season and clinching their third domestic double in a row. Coach Mircea Lucescu's personal tally now stands at seven Ukrainian Premier League titles in nine years.

Meanwhile, FC Metalist Kharkiv were also big winners as they gained a UEFA Champions League berth for the first time, having finished second ahead of FC Dynamo Kyiv who endured their worst season in 20 years.

Champions: FC Shakhtar Donetsk
The eventual champions displayed their superiority throughout the campaign and were already 12 points up by the time the winter break rolled around, courtesy of a remarkable 15 wins from 15 games. The run was finally halted by FC Arsenal Kyiv, before Willian's departure to FC Anji Makhachkala impacted slightly, but the Pitmen still finished 13 points clear of Metalist, failing to win just five of their 30 matches, and losing only once.

Cup final: FC Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 FC Chornomorets Odesa
The Donetsk side lifted their third consecutive domestic cup, and ninth from the last 13 attempts, as they comfortably saw off Chornomorets, who will take their place in the UEFA Europa League next term. Lucescu's team had to wait until five minutes before half-time to make the breakthrough, courtesy of Fernandinho, before second-half strikes from Alex Teixeira and Taison sealed the win as Shakhtar further cemented their dominance in Ukraine.

European places*
FC Shakhtar Donetsk – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Metalist Kharkiv – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC Dynamo Kyiv – UEFA Europa League play-off
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – UEFA Europa League play-off
FC Metalurh Donetsk – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Chornomorets Odesa – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (FC Shakhtar Donetsk)
The attacking midfielder set a Premier League scoring record as he hit 25 goals, missing out by just one on matching Vitaliy Starukhin's 1979 Shakhtar record of 26 seasonal strikes. The 24-year-old Armenian international was also present in five of the eight monthly votes for the league's three best players, winning the poll twice.

One to watch: Maxym Koval (FC Dynamo Kyiv)
Aged 20, Koval is already establishing himself as a key man at Dynamo, where he has gradually usurped club and national-team great Olexandr Shovkovskiy. This term he was confirmed as Kyiv's first-choice keeper, as well as becoming a regular squad member with the Ukraine side, where he will look to wrest the gloves from Shakhtar's Andriy Pyatov.

Surprise package: FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih
The Kryvyi Rih outfit notched a series of eye-catching results during the spring as they took points off all the contenders for the runners-up spot. Draws against Dynamo and Metalist were supplemented by a 2-1 win at FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. If that were not impressive enough, financial problems meant the players were not even being paid during that period. Those problems were never resolved, forcing Kryvbas to cancel their final away game against FC Volyn Lutsk. Even so, they still managed a commendable seventh-placed finish.

Leading scorer: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, FC Shakhtar Donetsk (25)

Relegated: FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih (bankruptcy)

Promoted: PFC Sevastopol

Number: 26
A seventh league title and fifth Ukrainian Cup were the 25th and 26th trophies of Mircea Lucescu's illustrious coaching career. The Shakhtar boss has already passed Valeriy Lobanovskiy's achievement in Ukrainian football – and is set to exceed the former Dynamo and Ukraine coach's tally of 28 trophies.

Quote
"I have won many titles in recent years but have never been included in Europe's top ten coaches. Only me and Alex Ferguson win trophies every single year, but the Scot's achievements are rated much higher."
Lucescu is still dreaming of Europe-wide recognition.

Last updated: 18/06/13 17.00CET

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