Dnirpo continued their impressive start with a 2-0 away victory over Illichivets Mariupol on Friday night. Last year’s 4th place finishers defeated Arsenal 3-0 in their opener last week, and this result takes them into first place on goal difference. Dnipro took the lead in the 41st minute when Yevhen Konoplyanka took advantage of Bohdan Butko’s error and unleashed a half-volley into the corner of the net. The home side had their fair share of chances and tested the Dnipro keeper multiple times, but Denys Boyko was up to the challenge. Dnipro doubled their lead in the 52nd minute. Ruslan Rotan lofted his free kick into the box and Illichivets goalkeeper Ihor Bazhan came out to claim but was beaten to the ball by Yevhen Seleznyov, whose header ended up the back of the net. 2-0 to Dnipro, and it was enough to claim all three points. Another confident victory for Juande Ramos’s men, who will start their UEFA Europa league campaign in the playoff round in late August.
Dynamo Kyiv won their first match of the season, a 2-1 result away to Hoverla Uzhhorod, thanks to a quick brace from their new Congolese striker Dieumerci Mbokani. Mbokani has had a fine start to his Dynamo career, and scored his first goal for the club on his league debut last week, though it was only enough to give his side the draw against Volyn. This time, however, his two goals two minutes apart late in the first half were enough to secure a victory for Dynamo. Andriy Yarmolenko fought off several defenders in the box and his square ball found Mbokani in front of the net. The striker made no mistake from close range to make it 1-0 in the 39th minute. Two minutes later he was on the scoresheet again, this time getting on the end of a Lukman Haruna through ball, rounding the keeper, and cleverly chipping the onrushing defender from a tight angle. Hoverla did not meekly surrender, however, and Dynamo keeper Maksym Koval had a busy night. The home side got a goal back in the 87th minute, a harsh penalty for a perceived hand ball on Jeremain Lens put away by Vitaliy Balashov, but were unable to find an equalizer. It was Hoverla’s second straight victory to start the season.
Metalist Kharkiv, who will begin their first ever Champions League campaign in a week’s time against PAOK of Greece, overturned a one goal deficit in the space of three minutes and held on to take all three points from Arsenal Kyiv. Arsenal took the lead in the 41st minute when Volodymyr Homenyuk finished from close range, but soon after halftime Sosa equalized for the visitors and just minutes later Cristaldo put Metalist ahead for good. The game winning goal was controversial, however, as Cristaldo appeared to handle the ball. Nevertheless, the goal stood, and Metalist now have six points out of six while Arsenal sit at the foot of the table, dead last on goal difference. They have not benefited from a tough start with two of their matches coming against Dnipro and Metalist, both top four finishers last seaspm.
Shakhtar Donetsk were given a scare by newly promoted FC Sevastopol but emerged 3-1 winners. New arrival Fred gave Shakhtar the lead in the 24th minute, simply deflecting the ball into an empty net following Adriano’s header across the face of goal. But Sevastopol equalized in the 59th minute. Denys Kozhanov, on loan to the hosts from Shakhtar themselves, took advantage of a poor clearance and drilled a low shot into the corner from just outside the box. Just as it looked like Sevastopol might get a shock point, Shakhtar turned on the gas and pulled out the victory. Luis Adriano made no mistake from close range following a Taison cross, and Wellington scored an insurance goal in the 89th minute to secure the three points. Like rivals Dnipro and Metalist, Shakhtar are off to a perfect start thus far.
In other results, Metalurh Donetsk were held to a disappointing 1-1 home draw by Karpaty and split the points, the first points for both teams this season. Tavriya remain pointless following a 1-0 loss to Volyn, Chornomorets were held 1-1 by Vorskla, and Monday’s only match ended in a scoreless draw between Zorya and Metalurh Zaporizhya.
Friday, 19 July
Illichivets Mariupol 0-2 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Saturday, 20 July
Hoverla Uzhhorod 1-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Arsenal Kyiv 1-2 Metalist Kharkiv
Metalurh Donetsk 1-1 Karpaty Lviv
Sunday, 21 July
Sevastopol 1-3 Shakhtar Donetsk
Volyn Lutsk 1-0 Tavriya Simferopol
Chornomorets Odessa 1-1 Vorskla Poltava
Monday, 22 July
Zorya Luhansk 0-0 Metalurh Zaporizhya
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