Óscar Cardozo's early double gave SL Benfica a famous victory at FC Shakhtar Donetsk and took the Portuguese side into the UEFA Cup at the expense of their opponents.
The Benfica forward scored twice in the first quarter of the match in Donetsk and although Shakhtar – needing a win to have any chance of prolonging their UEFA Champions League season – halved the deficit in the 30th minute with a Cristiano Lucarelli penalty, they were unable to conjure an equaliser. The result meant Benfica leapfrogged their hosts to claim third place in Group D and a spot in the UEFA Cup Round of 32.
Mircea Lucescu fielded the same team that had beaten Benfica 1-0 in Lisbon on Matchday 2 with Fernandinho returning from suspension, and the Brazilian made his presence felt in the third minute by forcing Quim into a diving save. Three minutes later, however, Shakhtar fell behind as Mariusz Lewandowski's sliding tackle inadvertently sent Cardozo clear and the Paraguayan kept his composure to take the ball wide of Andriy Pyatov and find the top corner of the net.
Counterattack pays off
Shakhtar tried to rally and Răzvan Raţ twice shot into the side-netting from an acute angle as the visitors attempted to protect their early advantage. That strategy of sitting back and waiting for the opportunity to strike on the break brought more reward in spectacular fashion in the 22nd minute. Cardozo was again the beneficiary, rising highest to head in Maxi Pereira's right-wing cross and leave the Ukrainian club with it all to do.
Shakhtar continued to pour forward and were presented with a way back into the game on the half-hour as Lucarelli was pushed by David Luiz and held his nerve from the penalty spot to bring his side back into the contest. Despite conceding, Benfica nevertheless dropped deep and soaked up the pressure with a view to hitting Shakhtar on the counterattack, Pereira shooting too high when well-placed, although Quim had to be alert to keep out Jadson's dangerous drive and preserve Benfica's half-time lead.
Shakhtar picked up where they had left off before the interval as Benfica found themselves confined to their own half with crosses peppering Quim's area. That promising start proved misleading, however. With Benfica's compact and resolute rearguard keeping the home side at bay, and with Fernandinho, Darijo Srna and Jadson unable to provide the creative spark Shakhtar so needed, Lucescu withdrew Ilsinho in favour of Willian.
They still struggled to break down José Antonio Camacho's disciplined outfit, although the news that second-placed Celtic FC had fallen behind at AC Milan galvanised Shakhtar into one final push, Srna shooting too high with a first-time effort from 20 metres. The Croatian full-back went even closer with eight minutes left as he met Willian's cross with a thunderous strike that rattled the post from point-blank range. With that, though, Shakhtar's last hope had gone as Benfica's celebrations began in earnest.