The visitors played some of their most impressive football of the European campaign and picked up a deserved the victory over Ivan Jovanovic’s men
Shakhtar Donetsk secured all three points with a 2-0 victory over APOEL in a Champions League encounter of little significance in Nicosia.
The visitors had the first chance of the game when young playmaker Willian saw his rasping shot from outside the area go over the bar. The Ukrainians started much the brighter team and APOEL hardly saw any of the ball in the opening minutes.
Shakhtar should have taken the lead in the 12th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Nektarios Alexandrou brought down Fernandinho inside his own area. Urko Pardo guessed correctly and dived to his right to push away Luiz Adriano’s effort. Adriano followed up the rebound but Sanel Jahic was able to clear the ball over the bar for a corner.
The visitors continued to attack the opposition goal with Willian coming close on a number of occasions. The home side had their first effort on goal after 22 minutes when Constantinos Charalambidis’ long range free kick almost met an APOEL head in the area, but Oleksandr Rybka did well to hold the ball.
Shakhtar had the majority of the possession and chances as the first half wore on, but the Cypriot side were spared their blushes by some fantastic goalkeeping from Pardo, especially when he pushed away Willian's shot out for a corner.
The hosts had their first shot on goal in the 40th minute when a quickly taken corner led to Ivan Trickovski receiving the ball inside the area and shooting goalwards. The shot looked promising but Rybka saw the effort out for another corner.
As the teams went in at half-time, Mircea Lucescu’s men were unlucky not to be ahead and APOEL had their in-form goalkeeper to thank for the 0-0 scoreline.
Shakhtar started the second half with the same passion they showed in the opening 45 minutes. Willian continued to look dangerous and linked up well with fellow Brazilians Luiz Adriano and Fernandinho. Darijo Srna had the first chance but saw his effort palmed away by Pardo.
The visitors took a well deserved lead in the 62nd minute when Willian played a slick pass to Vyacheslav Shevchuk inside the area who slotted the ball across the goal into the path of Luiz Adriano, who did well to clip the ball past Pardo.
Shakhtar almost doubled their advantage five minutes later when an inswinging cross found Douglas Costa but Pardo spread himself well to block the shot. Luiz Adriano found the loose ball in the area and struck the ball on target, only for Pardo to save the effort.
The game looked out of APOEL’s reach in the 79th minute when Fernandinho unleashed a rocket that could only be fumbled by Pardo into the path of Yevhen Seleznyov, who coolly slotted the ball round the helpless keeper and into the net.
As the game drew to a close, it was the visiting side who continued to press with Willian searching for the goal he thoroughly deserved. Limited chances for APOEL did not seem to dampen the crowd’s spirits who were in full voice throughout the match.
A loss for APOEL doesn’t affect their position at the top of Group G. Shakhtar’s win does not take them off the bottom of the group but gives them something to smile about after a very disappointing campaign.