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Season review: Ukraine

Published: Monday 22 June 2015, 17.30CET
After half a decade of FC Shakhtar Donetsk dominance, traditional power FC Dynamo Kyiv roared back to claim a league and cup double inspired by Andriy Yarmolenko.
by Igor Linnyk
from Kyiv
Season review: Ukraine
Dynamo Kyiv celebrate with the Ukrainian Cup ©FC Dynamo Kyiv

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Published: Monday 22 June 2015, 17.30CET

Season review: Ukraine

After half a decade of FC Shakhtar Donetsk dominance, traditional power FC Dynamo Kyiv roared back to claim a league and cup double inspired by Andriy Yarmolenko.

Champions: FC Dynamo Kyiv
The capital side went top after ten games and thereafter refused to surrender pole position to seal a 14th Ukrainian title. Dynamo gained ten points more than next-best FC Shakhtar Donetsk, who had claimed the last five championships, and won three of their four Premier-Liha matches against second and third-placed Shakhtar and FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – conceding just 12 goals in 26 outings and avoiding defeat throughout.

Cup final: FC Dynamo Kyiv 0-0 FC Shakhtar Donetsk (Dynamo win 5-4 on penalties)
The final remained goalless after 120 minutes in Kyiv, with both teams having had chances to score a winner. Shakhtar then looked set for shoot-out glory as they led 3-1 after three kicks each, but 40-year-old goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy – in his 600th competitive game for Dynamo, the first player to reach that mark – saved from Taison before Yaroslav Rakitskiy hit the bar to prompt sudden death; Dynamo's Yevhen Khacheridi eventually made it 5-4, before Olexandr Gladkiy was denied by the keeper.

"This is a massive victory. We won the league and wanted similar success in the Ukrainian Cup but we knew it would be a game of equal importance to Shakhtar," said Kyiv coach Serhiy Rebrov. "The lads showed their character during the shoot-out while Shovkovskiy helped us once again. The credit should go to the whole team."

European places
FC Dynamo Kyiv – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Shakhtar Donetsk – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – UEFA Europa League group stage
FC Zorya Luhansk – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Vorskla Poltava – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round

Player of the year: Andriy Yarmolenko (FC Dynamo Kyiv)
The league's best statistically when looking at goals and assists (14 and 12 respectively), he was clearly Ukraine's player of the year. Predominantly left-footed, he was regularly criticised for being one-footed but has become far more complete and due to his technique and speed of dribbling has found himself ranked among Europe's finest.

After fulfilling a promise to win the championship with Dynamo, the 25-year-old could consider leaving Kyiv this summer. "I promised our club president Igor Surkis I would not go until we won the title. So now I'm open to offers but only from clubs with big ambitions," he said.

One to watch: Valeriy Luchkevych (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk)
Many young Ukrainian players impressed yet Luchkevych shone brightest. After injury to Matheus, Dnipro coach Myron Markevych gave a chance to the then 18-year-old Luchkevych who had already emerged as a fine right-back. He quickly caught the eye in a more advanced role and soon became a key player for the third-placed side.

Pacy and explosive, disciplined and hard-working, he always keeps his opposite number on the flank busy while also being focused, tenacious and selfless in defence. Although he was left on the bench in the UEFA Europa League final as Markevych preferred the more experienced Matheus, it is obvious Luchkevych is the future of both Dnipro and the Ukraine senior team.

Leading scorer: Alex Teixeira (FC Shakhtar Donetsk) and Eric Bicfalvi (FC Volyn Lutsk) – 17 goals

Relegated: FC Illychivets Mariupil**

Promoted: PFC Olexandriya**

** subject to final confirmation from Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU)

Last updated: 22/06/15 17.48CET

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