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Season review: Ukraine

Published: Tuesday 2 June 2009, 16.53CET
FC Dynamo Kyiv took the title while FC Vorskla Poltava earned their first Ukrainian Cup since 1956 at the expense of deposed champions FC Shakhtar Donetsk, though UEFA Cup triumph helped console the Pitmen.
by Igor Linnyk
from Kiev
Season review: Ukraine
Yuri Semin's sole season at Dynamo ended in a rousing title success ©Oleksandr Zadiraka
Published: Tuesday 2 June 2009, 16.53CET

Season review: Ukraine

FC Dynamo Kyiv took the title while FC Vorskla Poltava earned their first Ukrainian Cup since 1956 at the expense of deposed champions FC Shakhtar Donetsk, though UEFA Cup triumph helped console the Pitmen.

FC Dynamo Kyiv took the title while FC Vorskla Poltava earned their first Ukrainian Cup since 1956 at the expense of deposed champions FC Shakhtar Donetsk, though UEFA Cup triumph represented a big consolation for the Pitmen. FC Zakarpattya Uzhgorod and FC Obolon Kyiv have been promoted and will replace FC Lviv and FC Kharkiv next season, which will see the number of foreign players permitted on the pitch in Ukrainian league games reduced from seven to six.

Champions: FC Dynamo Kyiv
Having won 13 titles in the days of the former Soviet Union, Dynamo matched that total post-independence with their 13th Ukrainian league success in what may be their only season under Yuri Semin. With 26 wins in 30 league games, they ended the campaign 15 points clear of second-placed Shakhtar. Semin will return to FC Lokomotiv Moskva, so Dinamo will start next season with another iconic Russian coach, PFC CSKA Moskva's Valeri Gazzaev.

Cup final: FC Vorskla Poltava 1-0 FC Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar had already claimed the UEFA Cup by the time of the Ukrainian Cup final on 31 May, but coach Mircea Lucescu still cared enough about domestic silverware to field a full-strength side against Vorskla. However, Vasyl Sachko's header – and the subsequent dismissal of Shakhtar's Fernandinho – earned the underdogs their first Ukrainian Cup since independence. "I told my players that defeat would cast a shadow on our UEFA Cup success, but some are still too excited," said Lucescu.

European places:
FC Dynamo Kyiv – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Shakhtar Donetsk  – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC Vorskla Poltava – UEFA Europe League play-offs
FC Metalist Kharkiv – UEFA Europe League third qualifying round
FC Metalurh Donetsk – UEFA Europe League second qualifying round

Player of the Year: Jadson (FC Shakhtar Donetsk)
Hardly a threat in domestic football, where he scored just once in 26 games, Jadson starred in European competition, contributing nine goals in Shakhtar's long journey from UEFA Champions League qualifying to a 2-1 UEFA Cup final success against Werder Bremen.

One to watch: Taras Stepanenko (FC Metalurh Donetsk)
The FC Metalurh Zaporizhya academy graduate made his debut in a 3-1 loss to Dynamo in March 2007 when he was just 17. He ended this season with 62 Premier League appearances under his belt, including 29 in 2008/09. The Under-21 international defensive midfielder failed to spearhead his side into the European places but earned comparisons with Anatoliy Tymoschuk and his name has been scribbled down in many European scouts' notebooks.

Surprise package: FC Vorskla Poltava
Nikolay Pavlov has made huge progress with Vorskla in his 18 months as coach, guiding the team to fifth in the table as well as winning the Ukrainian Cup. Tellingly, they did not concede in their last three cup ties, despite coming up against the likes of FC Metalist Kharkiv and Shakhtar.

Leading scorer: Aleksandr Kovpak, SC Tavriya Simferopol (17)

Number: 401
Victory against Shakhtar in their final game of the season was Dynamo's record 401st league success since independence. In their previous game, they racked up a similarly groundbreaking 180th away league win at FC Lviv.

Quote
"The national title is the biggest competition in the world as it gives you a place in the UEFA Champions League, and we have won this most important tournament. We congratulate Shakhtar for winning the UEFA Cup – they have raised the reputation of Ukraine."
Yuri Semin, Dynamo coach.

Last updated: 04/06/09 14.11CET

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