FC Porto will host FC Zenit St Petersburg in a winner-takes-all encounter on UEFA Champions League matchday six after scoring twice in the closing stages against FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
Denied by the woodwork in each half, Shakhtar succumbed to a composed finish from Hulk and a Răzvan Raţ own goal in the final 11 minutes. The result lifts Vítor Pereira's men to within a point of second-placed Zenit, whose 0-0 draw with APOEL FC in the early game sent the Cypriot side through, and sets up a pivotal meeting in Portugal on 6 December. Shakhtar, quarter-finalists last season, are out of Europe altogether.
If the hosts kicked off knowing hopes of qualifying were over following the stalemate in Russia − coach Mircea Lucescu said pre-match he would do his best to ensure his players were not aware of the result − the news did not suppress their appetite for three points.
In a lively opening, Luiz Adriano tested Helton inside 15 seconds before Yaroslav Rakitskiy, covering behind goalkeeper Olexandr Rybka, cleared an effort from Hulk off the goal line. Shakhtar looked to take the initiative whenever they could, however, and in quick succession Willian swept straight at Helton and Luiz Adriano rolled a shot against the base of a post after resisting the challenge of Rolando.
The Dragons responded with two curling efforts from Hulk but, in the main, it was the industry of Shakhtar's front four which seemed most likely to fashion a breakthrough before half-time. Their cause was being helped by advancing full-backs Vasyl Kobin and Răzvan Raţ, who was halted on one such foray by Maicon. From Willian's ensuing free-kick Olexandr Kucher was narrowly off target with an overhead kick.
The pace of proceedings hardly slowed after the restart, with Luiz Adriano again warming the palms of Helton in the early stages. With Hulk typically bullish up front, Porto sporadically threatened, though it was the Ukrainian champions who continued to hoard possession as the tempo remained high.
Shakhtar were frustrated by the woodwork again with 17 minutes remaining, Helton somehow tipping Fernandinho's deflected shot on to his left-hand post. It proved pivotal as Hulk, running on to João Moutinho's long ball, kept his composure when clean through. Raţ's added-time intervention, deflecting in Maicon's dragged shot, merely added to Shakhtar's dejection.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.