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Shakhtar stand firm in Athens

Published: Wednesday 6 December 2006, 0.45CET
Olympiacos CFP 1-1 FC Shakhtar Donetsk Shakhtar ensured they would be in the draw for the last 32 of the UEFA Cup after claiming a Matchday 6 draw in Greece.
by Graham Wood
from Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium
Published: Wednesday 6 December 2006, 0.45CET

Shakhtar stand firm in Athens

Olympiacos CFP 1-1 FC Shakhtar Donetsk Shakhtar ensured they would be in the draw for the last 32 of the UEFA Cup after claiming a Matchday 6 draw in Greece.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk clinched a place in the UEFA Cup at the expense of Olympiacos CFP after a determined defensive display in Athens earned them a 1-1 draw and third position in UEFA Champions League Group D.

Honours even
With the Ukrainian side going into the match with faint hopes of advancing to the next phase of the UEFA Champions League, Brazilian midfielder Matuzalem headed them in front in the first half. Nery Alberto Castillo levelled for the Greek team with an emphatic strike just after half-time but Shakhtar clung on for a crucial point in the face of intense Olympiacos pressure. Roma ended any lingering Shakhtar aspirations of a top-two finish by defeating group winners Valencia CF 1-0 in Rome.

Positive start
Olympiacos, knowing only victory would allow them to overtake Shakhtar and claim third spot at their opponents' expense, dominated the early exchanges. Predrag Djordjević tricked his way past three defenders before flashing a low right-footed shot centimetres past Bohdan Shust's right-hand post. Castillo then broke free four minutes later but his deflected drive was comfortably saved by Shust before Miloš Marić rifled a right-footed volley narrowly wide.

Heavy price
The home side paid dearly for their profligacy three minutes before the half-hour when the unmarked Matuzalem, one of four Brazilians in Shakhtar's lineup, headed in Jadson Rodriguez's left-wing corner with Olympiacos keeper Antonios Nikopolidis caught out. Rivaldo, a peripheral figure for much of the half, got a clear sight of goal in the 36th minute but blazed his long-range attempt over the crossbar, summing up the nervous disposition of the hosts. Júlio César, the scoring hero of Olympiacos's 1-1 draw with Roma on Matchday 4, then nodded over a Djordjević cross five minutes before the break as the Greek outfit desperately sought an equaliser.

Timely equaliser
Olympiacos raised the tempo after half-time, continuing to probe the Shakhtar rearguard and they were rewarded within nine minutes of the restart. Marić and Rivaldo were the architects, the latter laying off his team-mate's left-wing centre perfectly for Castillo to fire a low strike under Shust and send the home fans into frenzied celebrations. Jadson worried Olympiacos moments later, though, finding space only to see his shot deflected over for a corner, before Brandão headed Ciprian Marica's cross wide with just Nikopolidis to beat as Shakhtar bounced back.

Brazilian cameo
Rivaldo now exerted more influence, calling Shust into action twice in the space of four minutes after the hour with a trademark free-kick which the keeper pushed away and a long-distance effort that Shust tipped round the post. Rivaldo thumped another set-piece against the wall before home coach Trond Sollied introduced Michalis Konstantinou, back after an ankle injury, to bolster his attack with 15 minutes left. Nikopolidis then came close to letting in Shakhtar substitute Julius Aghahowa by missing a cross but Ieroklis Stoltidis cleared the danger. Olympiacos went for broke by bringing on striker Félix Borja with eight minutes remaining yet could not conjure a winning goal.

Last updated: 06/12/06 1.00CET

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