Having won the Ukrainian Cup after "an absolutely crazy match" against FC Dynamo Kyiv, FC Shakhtar Donetsk can complete a domestic double at the weekend.
Five red cards
Wednesday's final in Kharkhiv finished 2-0 to Shakhtar but the result was overshadowed somewhat by a bad-tempered contest characterised by five red cards – the Donetsk side ended up with eight men and Dynamo with nine. Olexandr Gladkiy and Olexiy Gai scored the goals as Shakhtar beat Dynamo for the first time in eight matches.
"I think we deserved the win," said coach Mircea Lucescu. "That was the most tension-packed match of the year. I was sorry to see some of the things that went on, but it was a real footballing drama between the country's top teams. We may have won the cup but four key players will be sidelined now – Gladkiy, Brandão, Volodymyr Yezerskiy and Olexandr Kucher, who got injured."
The victory was greeted as a major achievement in Donetsk, with fans of the Miners sensitive to the fact they had lost their last three Ukrainian Cup final meetings with Dynamo. Next on the agenda is the Premier League title, although Lucescu said: "We are striving to win the championship and will do everything possible to get there, but it will be very difficult."
With leaders Shakhtar a point clear of title-holders Dynamo with two games left, the title race could end this weekend – provided Lucescu's men prevail at struggling FC Kharkhiv and Dynamo succumb against mid-table FC Vorskla Poltava. Shakhtar play neighbours FC Metalurh Donetsk at home on the final day, 18 May, with Dynamo away to third-placed FC Metalist Kharkhiv.
'Even on TV'
The first thing Shakhtar must do, though, is recover from their Ukrainian Cup exertions. "That's the first time I have played in a match like that," said goalscorer Gladkiy. "I've never seen anything like it, even on TV. The game was full of emotion. Both sides gave everything to win. Dynamo played some really good football, but we were stronger and got the success we deserved."
Captain Darijo Srna concurred. "It was an absolutely crazy match," he said. "What an adrenalin rush! It had been a while since we last beat Dynamo so we weren't going to lose this time." The Croatian international thanked the 15,000 Shakhtar fans who travelled to Kharkhiv and the thousands who met them at the airport on their return. "We felt their support as never before," he said.
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