Shakhtar deny plucky Partizan
Shakhtar Donetsk got their campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 15/09/10 10:27pm
Shakhtar Donetsk got their Group H campaign off to a winning start as they claimed a thoroughly-deserved 1-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade.
The Ukrainian champions dominated possession at the Donbass Arena, one of the host stadiums for Euro 2012, against a stubborn Serbian outfit.
Plucky Partizan looked like they might hold but their resistance was finally broken as Shakhtar skipper Darijo Srna curled in a 71st-minute free-kick and the hosts withstood a late flurry from the visitors to deny them a point and secure victory.
The 2009 Uefa Cup winners will now be hopeful of reaching the Champions League knock-out stage for the first time, with Arsenal beating Braga 6-0 in the other group opener.
Partizan have already played six qualifying games to get this far and saw Shakhtar make a lively start as they looked for a repeat of their 4-1 victory over Partizan here in last season's Europa League.
Romanian left-back Razvan Rat hit an early strike beyond the far post while Willian's 25-yard effort forced a decent save from Vladimir Stojkovic, who is on loan from Sporting Lisbon and played four games on loan at Wigan last season.
Luiz Adriano and Olexiy Gai failed to get a final touch from Srna's right-wing cross before Stojkovic gathered, and Serbia's World Cup keeper was alert to prevent Gai latching onto Rat's through-ball in the 37th minute while punching away two curling efforts by Douglas Costa.
Cheered on by a buoyant home crowd, Shakhtar remained firmly on top in the second half with Rat's vicious left-wing cross causing panic in the visitors' box.
Stojkovic was then out quickly to deny Jadson from Willian's slide-rule pass while Aleksandar Lazevski got in a timely tackle after Tomas Hubschman found Adriano in the box.
Adriano seemed destined to score in the 65th minute when the Brazilian striker rose unmarked to head Srna's right-wing cross goalwards but it was too close to Stojkovic, who tipped it over.
Partizan almost took a shock lead shortly after as home keeper Andriy Pyatov misjudged a free-kick into the box, Mladen Krstajic turned the loose ball goalwards and Olexandr Kucher had to clear off the line.
But Shakhtar finally broke the deadlock as Croatia international Srna bent a fine 25-yard free-kick round the wall and into the bottom corner, although Stojkovic was poorly positioned to tarnish an impressive performance.
Willian almost doubled Shaktar's lead only to shoot straight at Stojkovic but then the hosts sat back and were relieved to see Cleo fire a long-range effort wide before Pyatov turned Nemanja Tomic and Sasa Ilic strikes round the post.
Pyatov denied Radosav Petrovic from one of the resulting corners although Gai struck the inside of a post as Shakhtar broke in stoppage time.
|Shakhtar Donetsk||Team Statistics||FK Partizan Belgrade|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||3|
|4||Shots off Target||4|