Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 Antwerp: Mykola Matviyenko gives Shakhtar a chance of qualifying

Having registered a famous 1-0 victory over five-time UEFA Champions League winners Barcelona prior to the international break, Shakhtar Donetsk manager Marino Pusic made only one change to that particular XI as Irakli Azarovi replaced Yaroslav Rakitskyi in the heart of the Miners’ defence.

SHA: Riznyk; Gocholeishvili, Bondar, Azarovi, Matviyenko; Stepanenko; Zubkov, Kryskiv, Sudakov, Newerton; Sikan

ROY: Butez; Alderweireld, Bataille, Coulibaly, Wijndal; Yusuf, Vermeeren; Kerk, Muja, Balikwisha; Janssen

Seeking their first consecutive victories in the UEFA Champions League since February 2018, Shakhtar flew out of the dressing room, and were ahead shortly before the quarter-hour mark as Mykola Matviyenko authoritatively got ahead of his marker to head home Oleksandr Zubkov’s enticing free-kick delivery into the penalty area beyond Jean Butez.

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On the other hand, Antwerp struggled in their attacking endeavours to call Shakhtar goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk into any sort of action. However, the oldest professional football club in Belgium eventually managed to have their first shot on target in the 32nd minute as an alert Riznyk brilliantly redirected Arbnor Muja’s strike away from danger.

In a stark contrast to the opening 45 minutes, Antwerp began assertively pursuing a quick-fire equalising goal after the restart as the in-form Vincent Janssen headed straight towards Riznyk. Nonetheless, it was Shakhtar who came the closest to hitting the back of the net in the second half, as the unlikely goalscoring source of defender Irakli Azarovi saw his ambitious long-range strike magnificently flicked onto the paintwork of the bar by the fingertips of Butez.

Clearly determined to put the game to bed, and avoid any unnecessary late headaches, the hosts again struck the same piece of woodwork, via the assistance of a visibly-inspired Butez seven minutes later, as Shakhtar skipper Taras Stepanenko experienced the same frustrating state of emotion as his teammate, Azarovi.

Thankfully for Shakhtar, they would not face any further significant attacking opposition against an underwhelming Antwerp outfit, as a precious three points puts the reigning Ukrainian Premier League champions level on points with Barcelona and Porto ahead of the formers’ top-of-the-table Group H clash later this evening.

Meanwhile, Mark van Bommel’s already-eliminated side remain as only one of two participations – alongside Benfica – to have ended up on the losing side in all of their matches in this season’s competition-proper.