Kharkiv (Ukraine) (AFP) – Inspired by Brazilians Bernard and Ismaily, Shakhtar Donetsk qualified for the Champions League last 16 with a 2-1 victory over a much-changed and subdued Manchester City on Wednesday.
First-half goals from Shakhtar’s Brazilian pair, both created by Brazilian-born Ukraine international Marlos, proved enough to ensure the Ukraine champions would go into the draw on Monday with a plum tie against the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain on the cards.
Shakhtar needed only a point to secure their progress as Group F runners-up behind City from a match that, including Marlos, featured nine Brazilians from the start.
In the end, the Ukrainians could even have afforded to lose as Napoli lost 2-1 to 10-man Feyenoord in Rotterdam thanks to an injury time goal from Jeremiah St. Juste.
Although City dominated possession — enjoying more than two thirds of that — Pep Guardiola’s side were totally out of sorts and slumped to a first defeat this season.
Having already won the group and with one eye on Sunday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford, Guardiola had rung the changes to his starting line-up giving precocious teenage starlet Phil Foden a first senior start.
Foden was the star of England’s Under-17 World Cup victory in India in October but was largely a spectator as the hosts dominated in their temporary home in Kharkiv.
Only three players kept their places from the side Guardiola picked to face West Ham last Sunday but it was partly thanks to one of those — Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson — that City found themselves trailing 2-0 at the break.
Shakhtar had created a few half chances without overly taxing Ederson before taking the lead with a spectacular goal from Bernard on 26 minutes.
Marlos, the orchestrator of so much of Shakhtar’s attacking thrusts, drove at the heart of a back-pedalling City defence before feeding Bernard to his left.
The midfielder’s first touch was poor and took him wide, but as the City defence stood off, he cut inside onto his right foot and curled a sumptuous shot into the top corner.
– Reckless Ederson –
If there was nothing Ederson could do about that, he was largely at fault for another compatriot finding the net six minutes later.
Ismaily beat the offside trap to run onto Marlos’s dink over the top and, as Ederson charged recklessly from his area, toe-poked the ball past the stranded goalkeeper before passing it into an empty net.