Shakhtar's Surprising Triumph Over Barcelona in the Champions League

Shakhtar’s Surprising Triumph Over Barcelona in the Champions League

Barcelona suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk, missing a golden opportunity to secure early qualification for the Champions League knockout stage.

Danylo Sikan’s skillful header in the 40th minute secured a memorable victory for Shakhtar, while Xavi Hernandez’s reigning Spanish champions failed to pose any significant threat to their Ukrainian adversaries.

Barcelona still leads Group H, with Porto in second place. Porto is set to face Royal Antwerp later, and a victory for the Portuguese side could level them with Barcelona on nine points.

After failing to progress past the group stage for two consecutive seasons, Barcelona viewed this match as a chance to seal the deal with two games to spare. However, Shakhtar, playing their home matches in Hamburg due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, displayed resilience from the very beginning.

In the initial encounter in October, Barcelona missed several scoring opportunities, but this time Marino Pusic’s squad effectively neutralized the uninspired visiting team, who managed only one shot on target.

Xavi had expressed his dissatisfaction with his team’s performance in the narrow 1-0 league win against Real Sociedad on Saturday, despite the positive outcome. Unfortunately, his players didn’t heed his words of advice.

Shakhtar forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make the first save of the game, denying Mykola Matviienko at the near post after he slipped past Joao Cancelo.

Barcelona’s Ilkay Gundogan and Raphinha attempted long-range shots but failed to threaten, while striker Robert Lewandowski seemed disconnected in his return to Germany.

A few minutes before halftime, the hosts took the lead, exploiting Barcelona’s left-back Marcos Alonso’s position, who was caught out of position. Giorgi Gocholeishvili crossed the ball for Sikan, who outjumped Andreas Christensen and directed a header beyond Ter Stegen’s reach.

In the second half, Ter Stegen was called into action again, saving a shot from Gocholeishvili as Shakhtar maintained their pressure.

Around the one-hour mark, Xavi made some tactical changes, introducing speedsters Alejandro Balde and Lamine Yamal, along with Pedri, in an attempt to inject life into his team’s lackluster display.

Barcelona’s performance improved, but they couldn’t find the spark they needed, and Shakhtar goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk had a relatively uneventful night.

In the dying moments, Shakhtar’s young Brazilian winger, Newerton, appeared to score a spectacular second goal, but it was disallowed for offside, denying Pusic’s team an even more remarkable victory.

Barcelona had seven minutes of added time to make a comeback but couldn’t break through. Felix made an unsuccessful appeal for a penalty after being clipped on the edge of the box.

With this result, Shakhtar now sits just three points behind Barcelona in the group standings. Barcelona will host Porto in their next Champions League match on November 28.