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Ukraine’s Shakhtar power to Champions League victory at Leipzig

Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk romped to a memorable 4-1 Champions League win over RB Leipzig in Germany on Tuesday.

Shakhtar, who have not played in their home town since 2014, did not have any competitive matches this year until August 23 due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They have lost multiple key players since as FIFA allowed foreign players and coaches to suspend their contracts and leave the club.

Shakhtar hold their home league games in capital Kyiv and will play their Champions League home matches in the Polish capital of Warsaw, because of a UEFA ban on playing in the war-torn nation.

The visitors took the lead against the run of play in the 16th minute thanks to a howler from Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, whose scuffed kick fell straight into the path of Marian Shved.

Leipzig continued to dominate possession and territory as the game went on, equalising through a powerful strike from French defender Mohamed Simakan 10 minutes into the second half. 

Shakhtar were undaunted however, and hit back again through Shved, who marked his full debut with a double, just one minute later to reclaim the lead.

They put the result beyond doubt with another counter-attacking goal from winger Mykhaylo Mudryk in the 76th minute.

Mudryk, rumoured to be a target for Bayer Leverkusen and Arsenal before the summer transfer window closed, guided a shot beyond Gulacsi.

Burkinabe forward Lassina Traore, one of only three non-Ukrainian players in Shakhtar’s 23-man matchday squad, scored his side’s fourth with five minutes to play after coming on as a substitute.

Shakhtar were well supported in Leipzig, with Ukrainian flags seen around the stadium.

Considered contenders to dethrone Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga this season, particularly after their German Cup win, Leipzig have just five points after five domestic matches.

Leipzig will be desperate for a change of fortunes when they host Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

German media reports indicate Leipzig-born former Dortmund coach Marco Rose, who previously won two Austrian titles with sister club Red Bull Salzburg, has been lined up to replace Domenico Tedesco if the coach fails to stop the slide.

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