Donetsk

Borussia Dortmund cruise into Champions League’s final eight, eliminate Shakhtar Donetsk

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In some ways, the match seemed the same as the one Borussia Dortmund and Shakhtar Donetsk played out three weeks ago, a game that ended tied, 2-2. Dortmund was again exerting control, but whereas last month’s match in Donetsek saw a quick Shakhtar side threaten BVB in transition, the German champions had an easy go of it on Tuesday. First half goals from Felipe Santana and Mario Götze had the Germans up two at half and when  Jakub “Kuba” Blaszczykowski scored early in the second, Dortmund had their margin of victory. Making surprisingly easy work of a talented Shakhtar team, Dortmund moves into the final eight, winning on aggregate 5-2.

Most of us who had been following this Shakhtar team expected more, especially with Taison having capably replaced the departed Willian. But Mircea Lucescu’s side lacked the verve they showed in Ukraine. Before settling in after their third goal, Dortmund had heavy advantages in possession, shots, shots are target — the crude measures we use to describe the match’s tenor.

Whereas Shakhtar was able to use their counterattacking game to threaten BVB three weeks ago, today they were muted. This played out as your typical big league titan against a mid-sized league’s aspirant. Donetsk was never in the game.

It took Dortmund 31 minutes to open their account, with Santana — starting for Mats Hummels — heading a near post corner above the post-guarding defender to put BVB up 3-2. Six minutes later, a Robert Lewandwski cross was redirected inside Andriy Pyatov’s right post by Götze, giving Dortmund a 4-2 lead.

Just after halftime, a Götze shot spilled in front of goal gave Blaszczykowskia chance at an easy put back, Dortmund’s 5- 2 lead extinguishing any hope Shakhtar had of upsetting the German champions.

For a team that’s transcending their league, Donetsk’s loss leaves little tangible reward for what’s been a remarkable year. At 18-0-1, Shakhtar’s 13 points up in the Ukrainian Premier League, a circuit that used to be hotly contested between them and Dynamo Kyiv. Now left to gauge themselves against Europe, Shakhtar’s been shown to be significantly behind the continent’s best. It’s not a surprising verdict, but it’s one that leaves the club with little to show for their obvious quality.

For the victors, the decisive result is another sign they’re viable Champions League contenders. While BVB’s recent loss to Bayern was a reminder there’s still progress to be made, not many teams would have hung a three-goal victory on Shakhtar Donetsk. That they did reaffirms the idea they’re among UEFA’s best.

Some may see this result as reason to dream of an all-German final. Until BVB proves vulnerable in Champions League, there so reason that dream can’t come true.

Plane carrying fans en route to Champions League match crashes in Donetsk; four reported dead

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According to reports out of Ukraine, a plane carrying 44 passengers from Odessa to Donetsk was forced into an emergency landing Wednesday evening. Four people are dead, with the status of two others unclear. Twelve people were injured.

The plane, a twin-engined Antonov 24 turbopop, overshot the runway in Donetsk. When it attempted to execute an emergency landing, the plane turned over and broke apart. Donetsk was reportedly “shrouding in fog” during the aircraft’s approach.

Emergency personnel from Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport were immediately dispatched, with surviving passengers transported back to the facility.

Regional governor Andriy Shyshatsky:

“The large majority of passengers have been saved. At the moment, there are four dead. One person is visible in the wreckage, but we don’t yet know whether he is alive or not. We are searching for one other person …”

According to Dmytro Verbytsky, a passenger who spoke to press at the airport, the plane was full of fans on their way to the Donbass Arena for tonight’s UEFA Champions League match between Shakhtar Donetsk and German champions Borussia Dortmund.

The plane contained 37 passengers and eight crew members. Thirty-nine of the plane occupants have been rescued.