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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Werder Bremen (aet)

Adriano, 25 Naldo, 35
Jadson, 97

We've been told for some time that a new footballing power is rising in the east and Shakhtar Dontesk's capture of the UEFA Cup is compelling evidence indeed . The Ukrainian giants, funded by a wealth of gas revenue and preparing to move to a new super-sized stadium, have made a statement of intent here. They have the money, they have the flamboyant front row of Brazilians that characterises football in the region and now they have a European trophy, the first won by any Ukrainian side, to show for their hard work.

For all of Werder Bremen's spirit and determination, they were always second best to Mircea Lucescu's free-flowing side. Playing in a Rafa Benitez styled 4-2-3-1, Luiz Adriano was Fernando Torres to Jadson's Steven Gerrard, combining, linking and wreaking havoc on the German back-line. Shakhtar didn't lack ambition either. Far from closing the game down in extra-time, they surged forward for the winner that they knew they deserved. When Jadson poked the crucial goal through the hands of the otherwise excellent Tim Wiese, the Ukrainians had nine men in their opponent's half.

With established stars like Darijo Srna, a mainstay in the Croatian team that stopped England qualifying for Euro08, complemented by the flair of the five Brazilians in this starting line-up, there's a lot to like about this outfit. Lucescu had been accused of being over-cautious, but there was little sign of that here.

Bremen are usually the great entertainers of the Bundesliga, but they were robbed of their mercurial playmaker Diego by suspension. Forced into an unfamiliar set-up with Peter Neimeyer and captain Frank Baumann holding a deep defensive midfield and Torsten Frings scavenging for width on the right, they relied on long balls over the top to Chelsea loanee Claudio Pizarro. It wasn't a productive tactic. Bremen's answer to Adriano's deft first half chip over Wiese was actually a free-kick blasted at the buttery palms of Andriy Pyato and deflected into the goal. They created little else. Credit to them, they pushed through the pain barrier in search of an equaliser, and saw a goal disallowed near the end, but with their crucial absences this was always beyond them. They still have a German Cup to play for, though it will be of scant consolation.

This was the 38th and final UEFA Cup competition before Michel Platini's rebranding exercise gets underway next season. The Europa League, which looks pretty much the same as the UEFA Cup but without those ludicrously unbalanced group stages, is still a bloated competition. It is still a pale shadow of the Champions League and yet it has been proved to have inspirational effects upon its winners. Liverpool lifted it in 2001 after an epic battle with Alaves, before the core of that team went on to win the Champions League in 2005. Jose Mourinho's Porto were victorious in 2003 and then won the big prize the following season. It's hard to see Shakhtar mimicking their fortunes, but you wouldn't be surprised to see them in the knock-out stages next season. A taste of glory and a touch of belief, not to mention the ability to lure in superior players, is not to be sniffed at.

The Russians are rising and the Ukrainians are undaunted. They have the resources and they have the ambition. Throw a few more players into the equation and who's to say that the Eastern powers won't leave Europe's secondary competition behind, and begin to have more of a say in the destiny of the big one?

MATCH STATS

Crowd - 53,100
Yellow Cards - Srna, Lewandowski, Ilsinho (Shakhtar Donetsk) Frings, Fritz, Tziolis, (Werder Bremen)
Red Cards - None
Shakhtar Donetsk -
Andriy Pyatov 7, Olexandr Kucher 7, Fernandinho 7, Jadson 8 (Ihor Duljaj 6, 112th), Ilsinho 7 (Olexiy Gai 6, 99th), Luiz Adriano 8 (Olexandr Gladkiy 6, 90th), Mariusz Lewandowski 8, Willian 8, Razvan Rat 7, Dymtro Chygrynskiy 6, Darijo Srna 7
Werder Bremen -
Tim Wiese 7, Sebastian Boenisch 7, Naldo 7, Frank Baumann 7, Clemens Fritz 6 (Petri Pasanen 6, 95th), Markus Rosenberg 7 (Aaron Hunt 6, 78th), Mesut Ozil 6, Sebastian Prodl 6, Torsen Frings 7, Claudio Pizarro 6, Peter Niemeyer 6 ( Alexandros Tziolis 6, 103rd)
 
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