FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk have guaranteed their place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 after a narrow 1-0 success against FC Paços de Ferreira in Group E.
Matheus' first-half header and Yevhen Konoplyanka's terrific curler midway through the second period helped Juande Ramos' outfit post a third win of an impressive campaign. Their nine-point haul is now unassailable by the teams below them in a section where leaders ACF Fiorentina extended their winning run at CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu.
Dnipro dominated from start to finish, with home goalkeeper Denys Boyko acting as spectator for long periods. He watched his Paços counterpart António Filipe make a number of saves, though, the first a fine parry after Bruno Gama had connected with Konoplyanka's well-weighted cutback.
Despite Filipe's efforts, Dnipro took a deserved 44th-minute lead. The goal – a straightforward header for Matheus – owed much to Artem Fedetskiy's assist. The defender showed remarkable skill to tee up his team-mate: controlling a pass on his thigh, he flicked the ball over a challenger with his right foot and, as it dropped, produced a first-time looping cross with the outside of his left boot. The goalkeeper stranded, Matheus beat his marker to the punch.
The hosts were determined not to rest on their laurels after the interval. Filipe was again alert to beat away a fierce half-volley from an unmarked Konoplyanka but could do nothing about Dnipro's 66th-minute second. The tricky winger jinked across the box after cutting in from the left and curled a wonderful effort in off the right upright.
That strike all but ended the contest and only the reflexes of the impressive Filipe prevented Nikola Kalinić adding a final flourish. With two fixtures remaining, Paços are eliminated, while Dnipro will go head to head with the Viola for top spot.