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Milan to test Shakhtar mettle

FC Shakhtar Donestk are the surprise early leaders of Group D but they face a serious test of their ambitions in Italy against AC Milan on Matchday 3.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk have enjoyed their best start to a UEFA Champions League campaign but the early Group D leaders can expect to receive the toughest test of their credentials yet when they visit holders AC Milan. The Ukrainian team arrive at San Siro seeking a third straight win yet Carlo Ancelotti's Milan will have other ideas as they look to get back on track after their 2-1 defeat at Celtic FC on Matchday 2.

• Milan went down to a last-minute goal from Scott McDonald at Celtic after Kaká's spot-kick had earlier cancelled out Stephen McManus's opening effort for the Scottish champions. That result left Milan second in the section on three points. The Rossoneri had opened the defence of their European title last month with a 2-1 home win over SL Benfica, Andrea Pirlo and Filippo Inzaghi the scorers.

• Shakhtar, by contrast, maintained their 100 per cent winning start with a 1-0 triumph at Benfica last time out, courtesy of a 42nd-minute goal from Jadson. That followed up a 2-0 home success against Celtic in their opening game where Brandão and Cristiano Lucarelli found the net.

• These two wins give Shakhtar hope of reaching the knockout rounds for the first time. The Donetsk club need only one more point to achieve their highest points tally in the competition, having taken six in each of their three previous appearances in the group stage in 2000/01, 2004/05 and 2006/07.

• Milan and Shakhtar faced each other for the first time in the group stage of the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League. Clarence Seedorf's 84th-minute strike swung a tightly contested game Milan's way when they met in Ukraine on the opening matchday in September 2004. Milan improved on that 1-0 win two months later by defeating Shakhtar 4-0 at San Siro through second-half goals from Kaká (2) and Hernán Crespo (2).

• The teams that night were:
Milan: Dida, Cafu, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Gennaro Gattuso, Rui Costa, Hernán Crespo, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Kaká.
Shakhtar: Jan Laštuvka, Tomáš Hübschman, Igor Duljaj, João Batista, Matuzalem, Zvonimir Vukić, Flavius Stoican, Julius Aghahowa, Mariusz Lewandowski, Brandão, Darijo Srna.

• Shakhtar's previous six visits to Italy have yielded five defeats and one draw. Their most recent encounter with Italian opposition was against AS Roma in last season's group stage when they lost 4-0 in the Italian capital before defeating the Giallorossi 1-0 in Donetsk, Ciprian Marica the scorer.

• Milan's Massimo Ambrosini, Massimo Oddo and Pirlo featured for Italy in their 2-1 win over Ukraine in a UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifier in Kiev on 12 September 2007. Four players from Shakhtar – Olexiy Gay, Olexandr Gladkiy, Olexandr Kucher and Volodymyr Yezerskiy – were on the losing side.

• Shakhtar's Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu was in charge of Milan's city rivals FC Internazionale Milano for part of the 1998/99 season, during which time he oversaw a 2-2 'home' derby draw with the Rossoneri in March 1999.

• As a player Lucescu was in the FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti team beaten by Milan in the first round of the 1976/77 UEFA Cup. However, he featured only in the goalless first-leg draw in Bucharest, missing his side's 2-1 reverse in the return.

• In his playing days Ancelotti was a member of the Italy team beaten 1-0 by a Lucescu-coached Romania in a UEFA European Championship qualifier in April 1983.

• This fixture brings Shakhtar forward Lucarelli back to his home country. Capped five times by Italy, he played for a string of Italian club sides – Cuoiopelli Cappiano Romaiano FC, AC Perugia, Cosenza Calcio, Calcio Padova 1910, Atalanta BC, US Lecce, Torino FC and AS Livorno Calcio – before joining Shakhtar in the summer.