FC Shakhtar Donetsk took a giant step towards qualifying for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages for the first time after an enthralling 2-1 victory against Group H leaders Arsenal FC.
Despite falling behind to Theo Walcott's solo effort in the tenth minute, the Ukrainian outfit − roared on by a partisan crowd − fought back admirably before the break through Dmytro Chygrynskiy's deflected header and Eduardo. Arsenal, who struggled throughout to deal with the fluid movement of Shakhtar's attacking Brazilian quartet, could have qualified with a win but now have their opponents for company on nine points at the top of the section.
Things did not start well for the home side, though, as the Gunners took the lead with the simplest of goals. Jack Wilshere's incisive pass from deep inside his own half put Walcott in the clear and the 21-year-old, exhibiting too much pace for the Shakhtar defence, coolly slotted past Andriy Pyatov.
That stung Shakhtar into life, however. The pace and movement of Willian and Jadson was causing the Arsenal back four all sorts of problems and on 18 minutes the latter could have equalised but his header, from just a few metres out, hit the post. Shakhtar's pressure finally paid off just before the half-hour mark, though, as Chygrynskiy rose highest in the area and his header was helped past the helpless Łukasz Fabiański by the unfortunate Craig Eastmond.
The Ukrainian champions were dominant and they took a thoroughly deserved lead on the stroke of half-time through their former Arsenal striker. Darijo Srna, who was a constant menace down the right all evening, dispossessed Gaël Clichy before finding Eduardo completely unmarked to sweep past Fabiański and cap an enterprising opening 45 minutes for Mircea Lucescu's men.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with both sides playing a high-tempo game, while the chances continued to come thick and fast, perhaps none better than Wilshere's ten minutes after the restart. The teenager, however, saw his curling effort go just wide as the visitor's upped their search for an equaliser. Shakhtar were still providing Arsenal with cause for alarm, mainly on the counterattack as the Premier League club continued to pour forward, but they were mainly restricted to long-range efforts which failed to test Pyatov.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.