Ukraine: Challengers need to dig deep to stop Shakhtar
Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk are beginning to run away with the Ukraine Premier League title as it enters its three month hibernation period for the winter. Mircea Lucescu’s men completed the year with a 4-0 win over Arsenal Kyiv and with eternal rivals Dynamo Kyiv already a distant twelve points behind the Miners it appears that the title already seems destined to end up in eastern Ukraine once again.
With nineteen matches played it is already past the halfway stage in the Ukrainian Premier League as each team plays thirty games to complete a league campaign. The only reverse that Shakhtar have suffered in the league so far is a shock 1-0 away defeat at Obolon Kyiv on Matchday 9 but that was as played in early September, at which point Shakhtar’s advantage over Dynamo Kyiv was a mere two points. Since then Shakhtar have been in great form, winning all ten of their league matches including a 2-0 home defeat of Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday 12 in early October. Dynamo have only picked up twenty of the available thirty points since September and that is the reason for the huge gap that now exists between the two clubs.
This Saturday saw Dynamo narrow the gap temporarily to nine points with a laboured 2-0 win over PFK Sevastopol, who lie second from bottom in the table. Roman Eremenko gave Dynamo the lead as early as the 10th minute but then the home side had to wait until midway through the second half to secure the game when Ognjen Vukojević doubled their lead. On Sunday Shakhtar made easier work of sixth place Arsenal Kyiv with all of the goals coming from South Americans. Brazilian Jadson gave the Miners the lead on 17th minutes from the penalty and Bolivian Marcelo Moreno doubled the lead eight minutes before half-time. After the break another pair of Brazilians got in on the act to complete the rout. Eduardo made it 3-0 just after the hour mark before Douglas Costa got the fourth from the penalty spot in the 79th minute.
For Dynamo the second half of the season could prove to be a useful rebuilding exercise ahead of the 2011-12 season as, barring miracles, it seems that nobody will be able to dig away at Shakhtar’s 12 point lead.