Spot-on Sevilla fight back for Shakhtar draw
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Shakhtar 2-2 Sevilla
Kevin Gameiro converted a late spot kick as the holders battled back to claim a slender away-goals advantage in this semi-final tie.
Article top media content
- Kevin Gameiro converts late penalty to earn Sevilla a draw
- Marlos scores one then sets up another as Shakhtar recover from early setback
- Michael Krohn-Dehli carried off on stretcher with serious-looking knee injury
- Sevilla looking to become the first team to lift the trophy three years running
- Second leg takes place next Thursday, with the final in Basel on 18 May
Kevin Gameiro blasted in a penalty eight minutes from time as Sevilla claimed a 2-2 draw away to Shakhtar and edged closer to another UEFA Europa League final.
The Ukrainian outfit were set to take a lead to Spain next week after goals from Marlos and Taras Stepanenko turned the game on its head following Vitolo's early strike. Sevilla, though, always seem to do just enough. Gameiro passed up two fine chances to equalise but made no mistake when Facundo Ferreyra brought down Vitolo.
Shakhtar went into the game with cries of "revenge" ringing in their ears but their start was more of a whimper – they were soon behind. It was, to Mircea Lucescu's eyes, all too easy as Vitolo latched onto Gameiro's simple pass, bamboozled Yaroslav Rakitskiy with a barely-disguised dummy and curled in.
It was the wake-up call Shakhtar needed, and midway through the first half Rakitskiy made amends, spotting Marlos running through a gap and finding him with a pin-point pass. The Brazilian took a touch before sweetly connecting with a rising ball to send it beyond David Soria.
By now Shakhtar had a firm grip on the game and their ascendancy was reflected on the scoreboard nine minutes before the break. Marlos was the instigator, leaving Éver Banega on his knees with an outrageous shimmy and whipping in a cross for Stepanenko to power in.
Sevilla were rocking but half-time brought salvation. After the restart the Pitmen changed tack, intent to sit back and hit them on the break. Sevilla scented their chance, and though Olexandr Kucher's stunning last-ditch block kept out Gameiro once, the Frenchman would not be denied.
Key player: Marlos
The departure of Alex Teixeira during the winter break left a gaping hole in the Shakhtar ranks (three months on and he remains, by a distance, their top scorer). There are signs that Marlos is ready for the lead role. His goal was beautifully-taken – a strike the watching Andriy Shevchenko would have approved of – but it is as a creative force that he really excels, as Stepanenko can attest.
War cry falls on dead ears
While seeking revenge dig two graves, the saying goes. As part of the build-up to the first leg, Lucescu showed his squad highlights (or is it lowlights?) of their remarkable defeat at home to Sevilla in 2007, when keeper Andrés Palop scored a last-gasp equaliser to take it to extra time. Yet Shakhtar's start was flat, and it took Vitolo's goal to shake them into action. The Pitmen seem more interested in the here and now.
Often at this stage of the season teams have to balance European endeavour with league ambitions, but that is not the case for either of these sides – cups notwithstanding, the UEFA Europa League is their focus. Shakhtar certainly seem to be saving their best for the competition but Sevilla are struggling a bit, and looked set for a sixth defeat in nine games. Emery's side, though, can never be written off.