FC Shakhtar Donetsk climbed to the top of the UEFA Champions League Group H table after dismantling FK Partizan and are now within touching distance of a place in the knockout rounds for the first time.
Taras Stepanenko, making his competition debut a week after his first senior cap for Ukraine, opened the scoring seven minutes after half-time and further goals followed from Jadson and substitute Eduardo. It put Shakhtar on 12 points, three ahead of Arsenal FC and SC Braga who they welcome on 8 December. As long as they do not lose by a three-goal margin or more, Shakhtar will be through after falling in the group stage or qualifying every year since 2000/01.
Heavy rain had fallen in Belgrade throughout the day and Partizan set about making life even more uncomfortable for their visitors with a purposeful start, passing with accuracy across the sodden turf. They had two attempts on goal in the opening 60 seconds and managed another two before Shakhtar had caught their breath, the best falling to Cléo who clipped his drive too high.
The visitors could not find their feet at this stage, but gradually began to knit some passes together of their own. It had the dual benefit of dampening Partizan's fire and frustrating the home crowd though it was a rarity when their possession led to a shot on goal.
One such move, with Willian squaring the ball across, led to Olexiy Gai taking aim and Partizan were relieved that Vladimir Stojković pulled off a fine save to his left. At the other end Cléo and Almami Moreira were linking well but the next time Partizan threatened it was from the boot of captain Mladen Krstajić, who let rip with a fierce free-kick that Andriy Pyatov did well to push away.
Stepanenko could not take advantage of a difficult chance as the half ended with Shakhtar well on top. They clearly had the measure of their opponents now and it was no surprise when they struck two early goals in the second half.
First Stepanenko was on hand when the ball fell nicely for him following a left-wing corner. Then Jadson showed immaculate technique to control and finish in one movement after Darijo Srna's ball had picked him out inside the penalty area. Partizan, already out of Europe and sliding to a fifth defeat, were now a demoralised force and Eduardo came off the bench to add a third goal from Willian's cross.
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