Premium Official News
May 29, 2013 Wednesday

The Federation of International Football Association has issued the
following news release:

After comfortably winning the league title for the fourth year in a
row, Shakhtar Donetsk are now firmly ensconced as the top club in
Ukrainian football. Led by Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, who has
been involved in virtually all their triumphs over the past decade,
Shakhtar dominated the 2012/13 campaign, leading from beginning to
end and finishing a whole 13 points clear of their nearest pursuers.

And while the champions would live up to their tag of pre-season
favourites, the country's most successful team, Dynamo Kyiv, left
fans disenchanted after failing to finish in the top two and missing
out on the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 years. Even
more surprisingly, Dynamo's most recent campaign coincided with the
return of legendary coach Oleg Blokhin, who stepped down as Ukraine
boss in September 2012 in order to take the job.

Instead, for the first time in the history of the Ukrainian Premier
League, runners-up spot went to Metalist Kharkiv. Under the tutelage
of Myron Markevych, the club finally broke up the Dynamo-Shakhtar
duopoly after finishing third behind the big two for the previous
six seasons. Now the outfit from Kharkiv are preparing to make their
debut in the Champions League, starting in the qualifying rounds.

Stand-out players

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Shakhtar Donetsk), 24. An Armenian international
and defensive midfielder, Mkhitaryan moved to Shakhtar Donetsk in
August 2010. Though nominally an enforcer in a side where Brazilians
have traditionally set the tone going forward, Mkhitaryan had people
talking about his creative skills during the 2011/12 campaign, when
he scored ten league goals and was voted the club's player of the year.

That was not altogether surprising, given that, aged 14, Henrikh
spent time at Brazilian giants Sao Paulo, where he played alongside
the likes of Lucas Moura, Hernanes, Oscar and Denilson.

During the 2012/13 season, the Armenian's goalscoring talents
blossomed even further, with his 26 goals not only topping the charts
and setting a new league record, but also matching the club record
set by the legendary Vitaliy Starukhin. Understandably, several top
European clubs are keen to acquire his signature, even if Shakhtar
are hopeful that Mkhitaryan will still be on board when they embark
on their Champions League adventure next season.

Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk), 28. One of the older members of
Shakhtar's sizeable Brazilian contingent, midfielder Fernandinho had
much more modest stats - two goals and six assists - to show for his
season's work. For all that, the contribution of this cerebral and
passionate player to the club's recent success cannot be understated,
especially after his compatriot Willian left to join Russia's Anzhi

Cleiton Xavier (Metalist Kharkiv), 30. A key protagonist for this
season's runners-up, Xavier also finished the campaign as the
club's top striker, with 15 goals and six assists to this name. A
classic No10, Xavier has been so adept this season as the team's
orchestrator-in-chief that fans quickly forgot the departure of fellow
Brazilian Taison to Shakhtar during the winter break.

Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kyiv), 23. Given that this season was
Dynamo's most disappointing in 20 years, the progress of a youngster
who has come up through the ranks brought some welcome consolation to
supporters. Without Yarmolenko's contribution, including 11 goals and
five assists, Dynamo would likely have struggled to defeat Borussia
Monchengladbach to qualify for the group stage of the 2012/13 Champions
League and subsequently go on to finish third in the league.

Normally played on the left wing for the Ukrainian national team as
well as Dynamo, Yarmolenko is one of his country's best hopes for
the future.

Key moments

15 July 2012. In the first round of Premier League matches, Shakhtar
host Arsenal Kyiv and emphatically defeat them 6-0. The win takes
them straight to the top of the table on goal difference, where they
remain for the rest of the season. Another 14 straight wins then
follow before they drop their first points of the season, away to
Arsenal on Matchday 16.

24 September 2012. Dynamo Kyiv sack manager Yuri Semin after a series
of disappointing results. Although the capital side have only lost
two league matches up until then - a 1-0 defeat to lowly Vorskla and a
3-1 reverse at the home of arch-rivals Shakhtar - a rout at the hands
of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and, more crucially,
a 4-1 loss to Shakhtar in Ukrainian Cup prove his undoing.

After appointing Blokhin as his replacement, Dynamo drop another
eight points in their next four games, a spell that includes losses
to direct rivals Metalist and Dnipro, leaving them trailing Shakhtar
by all of 14 points.

1 February 2013. Shakhtar sell star player Willian to Anzhi for a
reported 35 million Euros in what is the most expensive signing of
Europe's January transfer window. To replace him, Shakhtar bring in
fellow Brazilian Taison from Metalist. The upheaval does not affect
Shakhtar's domestic form, although shortly afterwards they do crash
out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 to eventual finalists
Borussia Dortmund.

7 April 2013. Shakhtar beat Dynamo 2-1 in Kyiv in what is their first
win at Dynamo since 2004/05 and the first time in five years they have
scored in an away game against their fierce rivals. Shakhtar's top
striker, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, nets both goals. Three weeks later, on
28 April, Shakhtar secure their eighth title with four games to spare.

3 May 2013. Metalist Kharkiv prevail 2-0 in a crunch meeting with
Dynamo and move to second in the table. Metalist's top forwards,
Cleiton Xavier and Marko Devic, the latter just back at the club
after an unproductive spell at Shakhtar, both find a way past Dynamo's
young goalkeeper, Maksym Koval. Two matches later, Myron Markevych's
team secure a second-place finish guaranteeing them Champions League
football next season.

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From: A. Papazian