Clarence Seedorf struck late on to ensure maximum points for AC Milan at the start of their bid to wrest back control of the UEFA Champions League, but Group F rivals FC Shakhtar Donetsk made life tough for the Italian title-holders in Ukraine.
The Dutch midfield player struck a low drive on the edge of the box to finally break the deadlock with just six minutes of the game remaining after the otherwise quiet Andriy Shevchenko - back in his homeland - forced Cosmin Barcauan to tackle inside the box. With the ball running loose, the onrushing Seedorf hit a first-time shot to Jan Laštuvka's left.
Srna sending off
That goal ended Shakhtar's dogged resistance, after the side had played the last 37 minutes with ten men following Darijo Srna's sending off for two yellow cards, the latter for deliberate handball. The loss of the Croatian winger deprived the home side of one of their liveliest players and their main conduit of attack, the 22-year-old posing a continuous threat to the Milan defence, particularly in the opening period, when the home team outshone the 2002/03 European champions.
Indeed, for all the pre-match talk of Shevchenko's return to the Ukraine, Shakhtar striker Zvonimir Vukic threatened to take the limelight as early as the third minute when the Serbo-Montenegrin player scrambled his way into the box and forced a decent save from Dida. The Brazilian was called into action on numerous occasions and had plenty of opportunity to make amends for his sending off against AS Livorno Calcio on Saturday.
But as the half wore on, Milan began to impose themselves on the game and for all Shakhtar's possession the best chances fell to the visitors, and in particular Jon Dahl Tomasson. The Danish international was twice found in space on the edge of the five-metre box but on both occasions his head was directed straight at Laštuvka.
The second half began in much the same vein, with Lucescu's side looking to use the flanks. Srna's red card forced a change in approach, but not result as the home side continued to press and on 82 minutes, it was Shakhtar who found the net with Vorobey's long-range strike. But the referee had already awarded a free-kick after adjudging Ciprian Marica to have fouled in the build up.
Two minutes later, Seedorf scored his third goal of the season - he also struck two against Livorno - to once again rescue his stuttering side and, although Kaká could not control the ball when well-positioned in injury time, Milan will be grateful to come away with all three points. They welcome Celtic FC on 29 September, when Shakhtar must visit FC Barcelona, 3-1 victors in Glasgow tonight.