Shakhtar Donetsk thanked their Brazilian contingent’s eye for goal as they saw off fellow Ukrainians Dynamo Kiev 2-1 to reach the UEFA Cup final for the first time on Thursday.
Donetsk’s 3-2 semi-final aggregate win gave them a May 20 final date in Istanbul against Werder Bremen, who put out German rivals Hamburg on the away goals rule.
It only added insult to injury that a paper ball played a pivotal role in Thursday’s 3-2 defeat against Bremen. The soccer ball took an awkward bounce off that paper ball, thrown from a Hamburg section of fans, which led to a Bremen corner kick from which Frank Baumann scored the decisive 3-1 lead late in the game.
And it was most likely Bremen fans who listed paper balls for sale on eBay in the hours after the match — with some marked as replicas and the original object most likely not among the dozen that had appeared by yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu praised his team.
“We are now a part of the history of European football,” he said. “It was a tough game as Dynamo were at their best as well.”
Brazilian Ilsinho netted a goal fit to win any game, finishing with aplomb at the end of a flowing move two minutes from time to send his teammates into a May 20 final in Istanbul.
After drawing the away leg, Donetsk survived an early scare, Ismael Bangoura firing an early effort just wide for the visitors.
But thereafter the hosts began to find their rhythm and were rewarded when Ilsinho’s countryman Jadson put them in front in the 17th minute.
Stunned into a riposte Kiev thought they were level when 10 minutes before the break Croatian Ognjen Vukojevic fired home following a well-worked free kick routine but his effort was ruled offside.
Needing to chase the game after the restart, Dynamo came out fighting and two minutes into the second period leveled after Artem Milevskiy fed Oleksandr Aliev, who in turn found Bangoura steaming through, and he nonchalantly chipped Shakhtar keeper Andriy Pyatov.
With extra-time looming ever larger, yet another Shakhtar Brazilian, Luiz Adriano, headed off his own line line as Kiev sought the second away goal which would have given them breathing space.
As the clock ticked down, Kiev’s Moroccan midfielder Badr El Kaddouri failed to cut out a through ball and Ilsinho pounced to outpace Nigerian Aliya Yussuf and slam a fine left-foot shot low into the bottom corner to wrap up a famous win.