The presence of FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen in Istanbul ensured that a 25th club would win the 38th and final edition of the UEFA Cup before it made way for the UEFA Europa League. Shakhtar won the day.
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FC Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Werder Bremen (aet)
(Luiz Adriano 25, Jadson 97; Naldo 35)
Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Istanbul
Shakhtar's technically-driven defensive play won the day in the final at Istanbul's Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, with the absence of suspended playmaker Diego undermining Bremen. Răzvan Raţ's pass out of defence was perhaps meant for Ilsinho, but with the Shakhtar No11 running into referee Luis Medina Cantalejo the ball continued to the lurking Luiz Adriano who had the time and space to deftly chip over the advancing Tim Wiese to make it 1-0. Bremen equalised before the break as Naldo's unthreatening, if powerful, free-kick was palmed into his own goal by Andriy Pyatov.
With no goals after the interval, Jadson was to be the hero of the day, turning in Darijo Srna's low cross seven minutes into extra time to secure Ukraine's maiden European silverware since independence. "This first trophy is fantastic," said Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, a UEFA Super Cup winner with Galatasaray AŞ in 2000. "There is a great feeling of satisfaction and I am extremely happy. Now we want other things. We want to do something in the Champions League."
Both finalists had started the season in the UEFA Champions League, with the top performers of the UEFA Cup group stage having been PFC CSKA Moskva, the only side to collect 12 points from their four games, and modest Ukrainian side FC Metalist Kharkiv, who ousted Beşiktaş JK in the first round and then beat Olympiacos CFP, Galatasaray and SL Benfica in the group stage, accounting for UC Sampdoria before losing to FC Dynamo Kyiv in the Round of 16.
Having crash-landed in the tournament in the Round of 32, Bremen caused a massive stir by eliminating favourites AC Milan on away goals, drawing 2-2 at San Siro after a 1-1 tie at the Weserstadion. Victories against AS Saint-Etienne, Udinese Calcio and, in the semi-finals, Bundesliga derby rivals Hamburger SV, would set them up for their shot at the title in Turkey.
Shakhtar had an even more illustrious set of scalps, eliminating Tottenham Hotspur FC in the Round of 32 before accounting for CSKA – and the tournament's ten-goal top scorer Vágner Love – at the next stage. Olympique de Marseille were then beaten in the quarter-finals, while Ilsinho's late goal in Donetsk decided a nail-biting last-four meeting with their Ukrainian arch-rivals Dynamo, with Shakhtar prevailing 3-2 on aggregate.