FC Shakhtar Donetsk will begin their short summer on a high, having beaten FC Dynamo Kyiv in their final match.
By Pavle Gognidze
FC Shakhtar Donetsk are today beginning their short summer on a high after wrapping up a successful season in Ukraine with victory against FC Dynamo Kyiv.
Mircea Lucescu's Shakhtar had clinched the title with a 3-1 win at FC Chornomorets Odesa last Sunday but the seriousness of a meeting with old rivals Dynamo, the league runners-up, meant both teams fielded their strongest lineups last night. It proved a tense contest in Donetsk with both sides finishing with ten men as Shakhtar's Matuzalem and Dynamo's Rodrigo were sent off.
Shakhtar's Olexiy Bielik opened the scoring at the close of the first half to end a run of eight consecutive clean sheets for Ukraine goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy before Jadson Rodriguez made it 2-0 after the interval. Diogo Rincón converted a penalty to pull one back for Dynamo before substitute Kleber unleashed a 35-metre effort to level the match. But it was Jadson and Shakhtar who had the final say, sealing a famous 3-2 victory that ensured a seven-point advantage over Dynamo in the standings.
With the 2005/06 season starting on 12 July, owing to the long winter break, the clubs are already busy making changes - not least at coaching level with Olexandr Zavarov leaving FC Metalist Kharkiv and FC Vorskla Poltava appointing Victor Nosov to replace Vladimir Muntyan. Dynamo, meanwhile, have brought back striker Serhiy Rebrov while club chairman Igor Surkis confirmed that Leonid Buriak has replaced Jozsef Szabo as coach, stating that he has "a special Dynamo mentality".
Elsewhere, FC Metalurh Donetsk sealed third place after drawing 1-1 with FC Obolon Kyiv while FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk secured fourth ahead of FC Illychivets Mariupil when Evgeniy Kucherevskiy's team beat Metalist 2-0. Both sides will enter the UEFA Cup as the Ukrainian Cup final on 29 May was contested by UEFA Champions League qualifiers Shakhtar and Dynamo, the latter winning 1-0.
Dnipro will have to find a new forward before their European assault as 27-year-old Ukraine striker Oleh Venhlinskiy has confirmed he is leaving. "This was not a spontaneous decision," he said, with Greece's AEK Athens FC rumoured to be his likely destination. Olexandr Kosyrin, the Premier League top scorer with 14 goals for Chornomorets, could replace Venhlinskiy.
At the bottom, relegated Obolon and FC Borysfen Boryspil will be replaced by FC Stal Alchevsk and FC Arsenal Kharkiv when the action resumes. Before the big kick-off, Shakhtar and Dynamo will contest the Ukrainian Super Cup on 9 July – heralding the start of perhaps the most exciting season in Ukrainian football history with Shakhtar and Dynamo boasting teams full of international talent and the national side almost certain to be represented at the FIFA World Cup finals.
Key to Ukraine's chances in Germany will be AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, the European Footballer of the Year, whose standing at home has just taken another leap forward. The 28-year-old has been appointed sports adviser to the country's president Viktor Yushenko.