Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Ukraine: Dynamo get better of champions in Super Cup (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on July 5, 2011

Dynamo Kyiv badgeAnother chapter was written in Ukraine’s biggest club rivalry tonight as Dynamo Kyiv started off the 2011-12 campaign with a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian Super Cup.

Shakhtar were the favourites going into the match having won the league and cup double last season. Dynamo, however, were not in the mood to let Shakhtar win the first piece of silverware in the new domestic season and started off well in Vorskla Stadion, Poltava, by taking the lead after just five minutes thanks to Oleg Gusev converting from the penalty spot.

Parity was restored just eight minutes later as Fernandinho, one of Shakhtar’s significant Brazilian contingent, equalized with a well-struck shot from inside the penalty area. But the game swung back Dynamo’s way just after the half-hour mark when Papa Diakhate regained the lead for the capital side having risen highest in the box to get his head on a Gusev free-kick.

The game would be sealed late in the game with Artem Malevskiy converting from close range following a wonderful breakaway move to give Dynamo a two goal lead they would never relinquish. It was some revenge for Dynamo who have had to take a back seat in the last couple of seasons as Shakhtar have enjoyed the status as Ukraine’s top club side after winning back-to-back championship titles. Some consolation can at least be had following their fifth win in Ukraine’s traditional season opening fixture which they also won in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Both teams begin their Ukraine Premier League campaign this weekend with home fixtures. Champions Shakhtar face off against Obolon Kyiv, who finished in 10th place in the 2010-11 campaign whilst Dynamo Kyiv have a potential tricky fixture against Metalist Kharkiv, who are an established third force in Ukrainian football having finished in third place for the last five seasons.

Ukraine: Shakhtar’s derby win seals sixth title

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 7, 2011
Shakhtar Donetsk fans

Shakhtar fans can celebrate yet another championship

Shakhtar Donetsk put their recent defeat at the hands of Dynamo Kyiv behind them to finally seal their sixth championship crown. The Miners played local rivals Metalurh Donetsk in the local derby at their home Donbass Arena on Saturday and came out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Luiz Adriano and Dario Srna. The victory puts Shakhtar eight points clear at the top of the standings with just two games to play.

The home side were frustrated in the first half by their neighbours who played a solid defensive game until the first goal came two minutes into first half stoppage time. Luiz Adriano, one of Shakhtar’s significant Brazilian contingent, sneaked into the box and was left unmarked six yards from goal to poke the ball home. The second half was played in much the same vain, the home side having to wait until five minutes from time before they sealed the three points. The goal came from a Dario Srna free-kick which was beautifully struck 30 metres from goal. This triggered wild celebrations in the crowd and allowed the club from the far east of the country to revel in a second consecutive championship title at the expense of traditional heavyweights Dynamo.

Shakhtar (played 28, points 70) can not be caught so Dynamo must now be content with second place as they, in turn, are a distant nine points ahead of third place Dnipro Dnipopetrovsk. Metalurh Donetsk lie in 11th place in the sixteen team Premier League but are comfortably placed in the table to avoid relegation.

Ukraine: Challengers need to dig deep to stop Shakhtar

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 28, 2010
Mircea Lucescu

Mircea Lucescu has helped Shakhtar to a healthy lead in the Ukrainian Premier League

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.

Ukraine: Shakhtar make Dynamo suffer further (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on October 3, 2010
Luiz Adriano

Luiz Adriano gave Shakhtar the lead in their 2-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv

Following the sacking of Dynamo Kyiv coach Valeri Gazzaev last week the Ukrainian capital club faced a difficult task on Sunday in trying to recapture the league leadership from arch-rivals Shakhtar Donetsk. Both clubs have dominated Ukrainian football since the second championship of an independent football league in 1992-93 and this season looks like both teams will be the likely contenders for the title yet again. Therefore it was important for both teams to gain a psychological advantage for the current campaign with Shakhtar just two points ahead of record champions Dynamo before Sunday’s match kicked off in Donetsk.

The match was played in the impressive setting of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk which is a testament in itself to the amount of work put into building the club by chairman Rinat Akhmetov. Having beaten Dynamo Kyiv to last season’s league title and the UEFA Cup in 2008-09 the club located in eastern Ukraine have been a thorn in Dynamo’s side in recent years but it was the visitors who looked the most likely to score in the first half with the likes of Andriy Shevchenko and Oleh Husyev having good chances to score. However it was Shakhtar who ended the half stronger and, despite the 0-0 scoreline at half-time, continued to attack their more illustrious opponents in the second half.

The breakthrough came on 64 minutes when Brazilian Luiz Adriano turned the ball home from close range following a deflected effort from Yaroslav Rakytskyi. The game wasn’t settled until the second minute of stoppage time when another Brazilian, Alex Teixeira, coolly slotted the ball home to increase the home side’s advantage and gain another notch into their battle for domestic superiority with Dynamo. For Dynamo the defeat signalled that the balance of power has shifted eastwards once again and makes the timing of Gazzaev’s sacking all the more questionable. Not only do Shakhtar have the advantage over Dynamo in the table (the gap between the top two increased to five points in Shakhtar’s favour) the Donetsk club also have UEFA Champions League football this season whilst Dynamo must slum it in the UEFA Europa League after they were knocked out in the Champions League qualifying rounds to Ajax Amsterdam. Unless the momentum changes Shakhtar are in a great position to win a second consecutive championship and keep Dynamo where they want them.


UEFA Europa League: Round of 32 preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on February 17, 2010
Miguel Veloso

Sporting's Miguel Veloso scores from the penalty spot in their 2-1 defeat at Everton FC on Tuesday

The UEFA Europa League is back and has reached the Round of 32 stage. There are plenty of matches that whet the appetite in this competition and “Stoppage Time” has a guide to all sixteen ties in the first knockout round:

EVERTON FC (England) v SPORTING (Portugal)

The first leg of this game took place last night to avoid a clash with Liverpool FC’s home game against Unirea Urziceni on Thursday. Everton have a slight 2-1 advantage going into the second leg thanks to goals from Steven Pienaar and Sylvain Distin. However French defender Distin was sent off late in the game for a foul on Liedson and Miguel Veloso (pictured) was able to pull one back for Sporting from twelve yards out. An intriging return game in Lisbon awaits.

AJAX AMSTERDAM (Netherlands) v JUVENTUS (Italy)

This is a game worthy of Champions League status with both clubs sharing six European Cup triumphs between them. Ajax are currently third in the Dutch Eredivisie whilst Juventus are sixth in Serie A. With both teams harbouring realistic ambitions of Champions League qualification next season they may decide to play weakened sides in Europe. Nonetheless this should be a fascinating contrast of styles between two great clubs.


The Basque side should have more motivation to progress as the Europa League is the club’s only realistic hope of silverware this season. Anderlecht, one of three Belgian clubs remaining in the competition, comfortably lead the Jupiler League but may find Athletic a tough proposition. Although if the Mauves can get an away goal in the first leg in Bilbao then the tie could be in the balance.


The Spanish giants are in good form having reached the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) final and beaten Spanish, European and World champions FC Barcelona 2-1 at the weekend. Galatasaray are top in the Turkish Süper Lig, at the moment, and are taking this competition seriously having won it in 2000 becoming the first Turkish team to win a European trophy. With both stadiums expected to be at their intimidating best these two legs won’t be for the faint hearted.


Club Brugge haven’t been such a force in Belgian football in recent years having to put up with their big rivals Standard Liège and RSC Anderlecht win the last four league titles. Valencia, despite being a distant third in the Spanish League, have high hopes of winning this competition and are likely to include big hitters such as David Villa and David Silva in order to progress to the next stage.


London outfit Fulham FC will have to get a good result at home if they want to progress in this competition as their away record this season is really bad, just one win in thirteen Premier League games on the road. However Shakhtar, the last ever winners of what was the UEFA Cup last season, haven’t played a league match since December as the Ukrainian championship is still in its winter break until February 27th so will be lacking in match fitness.

HAMBURGER SV (Germany) v PSV EINDHOVEN (Netherlands)

The German side will want to go one better than last season, when they were knocked out at the semi-final stage by rivals Werder Bremen, especially as the inaugural UEFA Europa League final takes place at their home stadium.PSV Eindhoven, currently top of the Eredivisie, are accustomed to the Champions League but have done well in the second competition having qualified for this stage with an unbeaten record so will be a tough grame for HSV.

HERTHA BSC (Germany) v SL BENFICA (Portugal)

Benfica are huge favourites to advance to the next round. The Portuguese giants are leading the Liga Sagres back home whilst the German capital team are propping up the rest of the German Bundesliga and were in second place behind the other Lisbon giants Sporting in the group stage. The second leg, to be played in Lisbon, will take place on Tuesday, February 23rd to avoid a clash with Sporting’s home game against Everton FC two days later.


The Danish champions, known locally as FCK, have played well against big clubs in Europe in recent years but fail to score many goals. FCK will also be lacking match practice as the SAS Superligaen has been in hibernation since early December. Marseille, currently lying in fifth position in Ligue 1, should have too strong a squad and will want to go all the way having lost in their two final appearances in 1999 against AC Parma and Valencia CF in 2004.

LILLE OSC (France) v FENERBAHÇE (Turkey)

“Fener” are involved in a title battle with eternal rivals Galatasaray in the Turkish Süper Lig so may decide to rest a couple of players in the two games against a Lille side who lie in third place in Ligue 1, seven points behind leaders FC Girondins de Bordeaux. The Turkish side will be slight favourites as they play the second leg at their intimidating Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium which hosted the UEFA Cup final last season.


Both teams are in the Europa League having finished third in their respective Champions League groups. Liverpool’s recent results have improved even if their performances aren’t always easy on the eye. However coach Rafael Benítez will want to win this trophy for a second time having previously won the title with Valencia CF in 2004. Romanian champions Unirea finished above Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers in their Champions League group but have seen coach Dan Petrescu jump ship to obscure Russian second league outfit FC Kuban Krasnodar during the winter break so may find it difficult against The Reds.


The Italian capital side are on fire, at the moment, having gone unbeaten in 14 Serie A matches stretching back to late October and have one foot in the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) final with a 2-0 semi-final advantage over Udinese Calcio. Panathinaikos, including in-form striker Djibril Cissé, may be top of the Greek league but have stumbled in the last fortnight with their lead now just three points from perennial champions Olympiakos.


The Russian side have had a dream couple of years winning back-to-back championships. However they’ve been out of action since the end of November and face a Hapoel side lying in second place of the Ha’Al League. If the Israeli side can sneak an away goal in the first leg then they may fancy their chances against rusty Rubin.


This is a fascinating contest between Champions League drop-outs Standard Liège and Red Bull Salzburg, who were the only team to qualify from the Europa League group stage with a 100% record. If Huub Stevens’ Austrian side can get a win in Belgium then expect the second leg to be a formality. However the Liègeois have one of the noisier stadiums in the competition and will make it difficult despite Standard having disappointed in the Belgian Jupiler League this season.


Steve McClaren, having taken unfashionable Middlesbrough FC to a UEFA Cup final in 2006, would love to take the Dutch side to the final in May. However Thomas Schaaf’s Werder side will be motivated to make up for last season’s disappointment in Istanbul against Shakhtar Donetsk by taking the short trip to Hamburg and, with their experience, will be favourites to go through.


Both teams have massively disappointed in their domestic leagues this season especially Wolfsburg who were surprise Bundesliga champions last season but who currently lie in 11th place this time around. Villarreal’s current form is slightly better, at the moment, and they seem to save their best performances for Europe.

UEFA Europa League Groups Round-Up: Part One

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 17, 2009
Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar Donetsk hope to be in Hamburg to defend the trophy they won in May

The final matches of the group stage have been taking place in the UEFA Europa League, the final of which will be played in Hamburg on May 12th, 2010. Having looked at the Champions League last week, Stoppage Time rounds up the twelve groups in the Europa League, starting with the six groups that concluded on Wednesday, December 16th:


This was an easy group for Sporting having qualified by Matchday 5 for the Round of 32. Second spot was up for grabs on Matchday 6 and despite Heerenveen’s best efforts at home to Ventspils (winning 5-0) they were ousted by German side Hertha Berlin whose European form was in stark contrast to their dreadful domestic form. Hertha’s 1-0 win over Sporting on the last day meant that they finished on ten points in second place (one point behind Sporting) whilst Heerenveen settled for third and Latvian champions FK Ventspils were unlucky not to gain more points in the tournament and finished bottom of the group.


Fulham were made to work for their place in the last 32 but Roy Hodgson’s men secured qualification in the best way possible beating nearest challengers FC Basle 3-2 away to clinch the second spot behind Roma who led the group on 13 points, two ahead of Fulham who, in turn, finished two ahead of Basle. CSKA Sofia proved to be the whipping boys of the group after they finished the campaign with one point gained on Matchday 1 in a home draw against Fulham.


Galatasaray and Panathinaikos easily qualified for the next stage. Turkish giants “Gala”, UEFA Cup winners in 2000, finished one point clear of their Greek rivals but there was nothing for the Athens based club to fear as they ended the group stage six points in front of Dinamo Bucharest. Dinamo secure third place after they got the better of Austrian side from Graz, the teams finishing on six and four points respectively.


Shakhtar Donetsk, the last ever UEFA Cup winners in 2009, are hoping to defend the trophy under its current guise of the Europa League. The Ukrainians won the group in dominant fashion having qualified by Matchday 4. In the end Club Brugge finished second as they defeated nearest challengers Toulouse 1-0 on Matchday 6 to clinch a spot in the Round of 32. Alas the French side had more than further progress in the competition to mourn as one of their fans, Brice Taton, was tragically killed after being attacked by Partizan supporters in Belgrade ahead of their match on September 17th.


PSV Eindhoven’s European experience was evident in Group K as they topped the table with 14 points. The second place went down to the wire as Sparta Prague played Danish champions FC Copenhagen in a winner takes all encounter on Matchday 6. Two Dame N’Doye goals and a Jesper Gronkjaer penalty secured the Danes a place in the last 32. Sparta finished third on seven points, three points behind FC Copenhagen, whilst CFR Cluj only won once in six games and finished bottom.


Last season’s UEFA Cup losing finalists Werder Bremen made easy work of their group only dropping two points out of eighteen (in a 2-2 draw against Austria Vienna on Matchday 3). Athletic Bilbao’s campaign also went well finishing six points behind Werder and five ahead of Portuguese side Nacional. Austria Vienna ended up with the wooden spoon with two points from six games all to show for their efforts.