FC Shakhtar Donetsk face SL Benfica in their final Group D match needing not just three points but also a slip-up by Celtic FC in Milan.
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FC Shakhtar Donetsk go into the final round of Group D fixtures needing three points from their home game against SL Benfica – together with some good news from Italy.
• Shakhtar's 2-1 defeat at Celtic FC on 28 November left them in third place in the group with only an outside chance of advancing to the first knockout round. Shakhtar will take second place if they beat Benfica and Celtic, three points better off at present, lose at AC Milan.
• Such a scenario would leave both Shakhtar and Celtic on nine points, with the Ukrainian team progressing thanks to their better head-to-head record.
• Although bottom of the group and out of the running for the last 16, Benfica have their own incentive as victory in Donetsk would lift them above Shakhtar into third place, thus gaining them entry into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.
• The two concluding matches in Group D are being played on 4 December, one week before the remaining Matchday 6 fixtures, because of Milan's participation in the FIFA Club World Cup which runs from 7 to 16 December in Japan.
• Shakhtar succumbed to a 92nd-minute winner from Celtic's Massimo Donati in Glasgow on Matchday 5. Mircea Lucescu's team took a fourth-minute lead through Brandão but Jiří Jarošík levelled on the stroke of half-time and Donati completed the turnaround at the death.
• That was Shakhtar's third successive loss in the competition following home and away reverses against Milan – 4-1 at San Siro on Matchday 3, then 3-0 at the RSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium.
• The Ukrainian club began their campaign with a 2-0 home success against Celtic – Brandão and Cristiano Lucarelli the scorers – and followed that up by winning at Benfica on Matchday 2, Jadson netting the only goal after 42 minutes.
• Shakhtar have remained stuck on six points ever since that victory in Lisbon and, curiously, this has been their final points' tally on each of their three previous appearances in the group stage in 2000/01, 2004/05 and 2006/07.
• Shakhtar have never reached the last 16 and went into their final game of last season's group stage in a similar position to now: they needed to win their match at Olympiacos CFP and for Roma to lose at home to Valencia CF. As it was, they drew their game and Roma won.
• Benfica drew 1-1 at home to Milan on Matchday 5, Maxi Pereira striking in the 20th minute to cancel out Andrea Pirlo's opener five minutes earlier.
• José Antonio Camacho's team began their campaign with a 2-1 defeat in Milan but after then losing to Shakhtar, they revived their hopes on Matchday 3 by beating Celtic 1-0 through Óscar Cardozo's 87th-minute strike. After losing 1-0 at Celtic Park, however, their elimination was confirmed by the 1-1 draw with Milan.
• Benfica have met Ukrainian opposition on five previous occasions, winning three games and losing two.
• They won on their first visit to Ukraine, beating FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3-0 to secure a 4-0 aggregate triumph in the 1989/90 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-finals. Their second visit in the tournament's group stage in November 1991 brought a 1-0 defeat by FC Dynamo Kyiv and featured a substitute's appearance from a 19-year-old Rui Costa.
• Shakhtar have played five games against Portuguese sides, winning two, drawing two and losing one.
• Both their previous home games against visitors from Portugal ended in draws: 1-1 with FC Porto in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals (sealing a 4-3 aggregate loss), and 1-1 with Boavista FC in the first round in the 1997/98 edition of that competition (securing a 4-3 aggregate win).
• Prior to this season, Shakhtar coach Lucescu had only come up against Portuguese opposition twice during his long career. His Romania side lost 1-0 against Portugal at the 1984 UEFA European Championship finals – a defeat that was partially avenged with a 3-2 friendly win in January 1985.
• Lucescu and his Benfica counterpart Camacho had met in three games over the years before this season. They first met as players in the 1975/76 European Cup, with former defender Camacho's Real Madrid CF side beating former striker Lucescu's CS Dinamo Bucuresti side 4-1 at home before losing 1-0 in the second leg.
• Lucescu was a coach by the time the two met again, with his Romania side earning their only point at the finals of the 1984 UEFA European Championship with a 1-1 draw against Spain. Camacho, still a player, would go on to reach the final, losing 2-0 to hosts France.