Ukrainian Premier League Roundup – Ukrainian Derby Special

Ukrainian Premier League Roundup – Ukrainian Derby Special

Vadim Furmanov –

Shakhtar’s entertaining 4-3 victory over Dynamo Kyiv in Monday’s Ukrainian Derby had it all—the fastest goal ever in a meeting between the two sides, two own goals from Dynamo defender Yevhen Khacheridi, and two comebacks from Shakhtar to claim the three points and effectively clinch the title, and, of course, a fight that led to a sending off for Dynamo striker Júnior Moraes.

The intense rivalry between the two sides has so often reached a boiling point that Ukrainian website Tribuna published a list of the five ‘best’ fights to take place during their matches. During one of Shakhtar’s 3-0 victories over Dynamo last season Andriy Yarmolenko lost his temper and kicked national teammate Taras Stepanenko in the knee in an apparent retaliation for the latter’s provocation of Dynamo fans by kissing the Shakhtar badge in front of their sector.

The recent edition of the Ukrainian Derby was actually a relative subdued affair

In comparison to that and many other incidents Monday’s match was relatively subdued, with 20 players left on the pitch at the final whistle—Dynamo’s Serhiy Rybalka was sent off in the dying moments of the game. Moraes was the sole recipient of an entirely justified red card. In the 59th minute, with Dynamo having just gone behind 3-2 and seeking an equalizer, Moraes elbowed Taras Stepanenko and proceeded to punch Oleksandr Kucher, Dario Srna, and Yaroslav Rakitskiy, then promptly received his marching orders.

Tensions did not escalate much further and the rest of the players kept their cool, but for Dynamo the loss of their lone striker with 30 minutes left in the match was a massive blow. Left constantly exposed on the counter, Dynamo finally conceded a fourth in the 88th courtesy of Khacheridi’s second own goal of the night, and Artem Biesiedin’s 92nd minute header was just a consolation goal.

The ugliness on the pitch is to be expected when these two sides meet, and often parallels off-field conflicts. The most recent one erupted when Dynamo’s Department of Print Media director Mykola Nesenyuk accused Shakhtar of a lack of patriotism for Ukraine, and sympathy for the separatist movements. Nesenyuk stated that they should move back to Donetsk if they are such patriots of the Donbass region.

Shakhtar promptly demanded Nesenyuk’s resignation, Dynamo responded by asserting that their club does not practice censorship, and the case was referred to the Ethics and Fair Play Committee. The committee cleared Nesenyuk, asserting that he made those comments in the capacity of a football expert, rather than a Dynamo official. Shakhtar general manager Serhiy Palkin was furious at the decision and said that the committee “has discredited itself and revealed its incompetence and dilettantism.”

Ukrainian Derby – Peace on the stands, war on the pitch

The ceaseless war of words between the two sides continued after the derby. Dynamo president Ihor Surkis said that Shakhtar’s provocations are their “style, manner of play, and culture of behavior.”

Palkin declined to throw any accusations, but contentedly stated “for the next three months all our supporters will be warmed up by the +13 point gap between us and second place.”

Since the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution all ultras have declared a truce, and there have been no violent incident in the stands or outside the stadiums during the Ukrainian Derby matches over the past three years. The fighting on the pitch and constant scandals and general animosity off it, however, are a reminder of how these two sides really feel about each other.

Ukrainian Premier League – Talking Points

  • Oleksandr Shovkovskyi has called it a career. The 41-year old long-serving Dynamo goalkeeper watched his side’s defeat from the stands, and afterwards entered the changing room, where he personally hugged and thanked every teammate, coach, and staff member and shortly afterwards announced his retirement. “Everything has a beginning and an end. Now my over 20-year career as a player is coming to an end. All these years I have been delighted to defend the colors of Dynamo,” he stated. Shovkovskyi made his debut for Dynamo in 1993 and has made nearly 600 appearances for the club, along with 92 international caps.
  • Francesco Baranca has been named the new head of the Ethics and Fair Play Committee. The Italian is the general secretary of Federbet, an anti-match fixing organization that entered into a cooperation agreement with the Ukrainian Premier League in September. Baranca has been vocal about Ukraine’s match fixing epidemic, which continues in spite of new legislation aimed at eradicating corruption in sport. Baranca and his yet to be appointed staff will face the monumental task of stamping out match fixing from Ukrainian football.
  • Chornomorets missed out on a golden opportunity to draw level on points with Oleksandriya, dropping three crucial points in a 2-1 away defeat. Vasil Hrytsuk gave his side the victory with a 78th minute free kick from a sharp angle that snuck in at the near post, but the show was unfortunately stolen by referee Yuri Vaks. Vaks showed 15 yellow cards and two red cards—some deserved, many not— and after the match was accused by several Chornomorets players of swearing at them.
  • Zirka Kropyvnytskyi came back from behind to claim a 2-1 away victory at Karpaty and drew to within five points of a coveted spot in the top six, which would allow them the chance to compete for a European spot under the new format. Zirka claimed the points in style, as their goals from Andriy Batsula and Federico Pereyra were among the best of the round.

Ukrainian Premier League – Standings

Ukrainian Premier League standings after the Ukrainian Derby

Ukrainian Premier League standings after the Ukrainian Derby

Ukrainian Premier League – Highlights

Vadim Furmanov is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Originally from Ukraine, Vadim has resided in Chicago since 1994 and is a passionate supporter of both Dynamo Kyiv and the Ukrainian national team. He is also a Chicago Fire season ticket holder and a member of the Fire’s Section 8 supporters group. He writes primarily about Ukrainian football, as well as the intersection between football, politics, and history. You can follow Vadim on Twitter @vfurmanov.