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Shakhtar and Sporting eye their opportunity

The two sides directly beneath Group C leaders FC Barcelona, FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Sporting Clube de Portugal, will hope to strengthen their claims on a top-two finish with victory in their meeting in Ukraine.

Ilsinho will look to add to his group-stage goal tally against Sporting
Ilsinho will look to add to his group-stage goal tally against Sporting ©Getty Images

FC Shakhtar Donetsk will seek the sweetener of three points to counterbalance the bitter pill of last-gasp defeat in their previous home game when Sporting Clube de Portugal visit the RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium on Matchday 3.

• Leading through Ilsinho's 45th-minute strike, Shakhtar were just minutes away from beating FC Barcelona on 1 October only for Lionel Messi to snatch an improbable-looking victory from the jaws of defeat. After equalising in the 87th minute, he shattered Shakhtar with a winning goal four minutes into added time.

• While Mircea Lucescu's men are out to make amends, visitors Sporting will be hoping to build on their 2-0 success against FC Basel 1893 last time out, courtesy of Reto Zanni's 55th-minute own goal and a Derlei effort after 86 minutes.

• Those results leave these teams level on three points in Group C, three clear of bottom-placed Basel but trailing Barcelona by the same number.

• Given Barcelona's pedigree and points, it would be no surprise if they progressed from the section. But both Shakhtar and Sporting will fancy their chances of advancing too – and victory in this contest would boost those chances considerably.

• Shakhtar opened their campaign with a 2-1 victory at Basel. Fernandinho (25) and Jadson (45+1) secured them the three points, rendering irrelevant David Abraham's late reply (90+3) for the Swiss side.

• Sporting, by contrast, opened with a defeat at Barcelona. Tonel (72) found the net for Paulo Bento's side but to little avail against opponents who struck three times through Rafael Márquez (21), Samuel Eto'o (60) and Xavi Hernández (87).

• Shakhtar have played six games against teams from Portugal, winning two, drawing two and losing two.

• They met their demise in Europe last season at the hands of Portuguese Liga opposition in the shape of Sporting's Lisbon neighbours SL Benfica. Although they had earlier won 1-0 at Benfica through a Jadson goal – their first away success in the UEFA Champions League group stage – a 2-1 home reverse in the teams' Matchday 6 meeting in Donetsk did not only end their outside chances of qualifying, but also pushed them down into fourth position and out of Europe altogether.

• Cristiano Lucarelli converted a 30th-minute penalty for Shakhtar but an earlier double by Óscar Cardozo (6 and 22) meant the damage was already done.

• Shakhtar's two other 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 (this time securing a 4-3 overall win).

• As well as Shakhtar's past failure to record a home win against Portuguese opposition, Sporting may also draw encouragement from the memory of their own successful first trip to Ukraine last term.

• The Lisbon club won 2-1 at FC Dynamo Kyiv in October last year, Tonel (14) and Anderson Polga (38) scoring either side of Vladyslav Vaschuk for the home team.

• That was their maiden encounter with Ukrainian opponents and they went on to complete the double against Dynamo, prevailing 3-0 in the return fixture in Portugal via a Polga penalty (35), João Moutinho (67) and Liedson (88).

• Prior to facing Benfica last 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.

• Basel and Barcelona will face each other in the other Group C fixture on Matchday 3.