FC Dynamo Kyiv stretched their Ukrainian Premier League lead to nine points with a 2-0 win at ten-man FC Metalist Kharkiv on Wednesday night that gives them the psychological advantage ahead of the teams' UEFA Cup Round of 16 tie on 12 and 19 March.
Dynamo, who will be at home next Thursday in the first leg of the inaugural all-Ukrainian UEFA competition tie, knew that defeat tonight would have allowed Metalist to move to within three points as they resumed their league campaign following the winter break. Instead, goals from Taras Mikhalik and in-form Artem Kravets ensured the capital side remained in full control at the top of the table.
Although Metalist were tipped for a good result after knocking UC Sampdoria out of the UEFA Cup last week, Dynamo were quickly into their game and on 17 minutes Olexandr Aliyev's corner was turned in at the near post by Mikhalik. Dynamo continued to push forward, with young strikers Artem Milevskiy and Kravets a constant threat, and Metalist's hopes further faded when defender Papa Gueye was sent off early in the second half.
Kravets doubled the lead on 68 minutes, combining with Carlos Corrêa in a carbon copy of the away goal that took Dynamo past Valencia CF last week. And to make the night perfect for visiting coach Yuri Semin, he was able to play midfielder Oleh Gusev for the first time in the league since April 2008 following his recovery from a serious knee injury. Metalist, meanwhile, are only one point ahead of third-placed FC Vorskla Poltava, with the Ukrainian runners-up to enter the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, while the team ending top go straight into the group stage.
Semin said: "This was a very tense and nerve-jangling match. For the first goal we made good use of a set piece. It was easier from thereon, because Metalist opened up and let our strikers use the open space. Kravets and Milevskiy were very good in exploiting that. Did we try to keep secrets from Kharkiv before the UEFA Cup matches? No, we know each other well, so the result on the day of a European fixture will depend on how the players feel on the day and some other factors."
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