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Thursday, February 17, 2005 

Shakhtar 1 - 1 Shalke (UEFA CUP)

Brazilian striker Brandão struck four minutes from time to cancel out compatriot Ailton's early goal and earn FC Shakhtar Donetsk a draw at home to FC Schalke 04 in the UEFA Cup Round of 32.

Early shock
Ailton gave the German side the lead in the seventh minute in Donetsk, although the visitors were unable to build on that advantage. Shakhtar threw everything forward in the second half in search of an equaliser and, just as it seemed their relentless pressure would not be rewarded, Brandão finally broke through in the 86th minute to leave the tie perfectly poised ahead of the return leg in Germany next Thursday.

New signings rested
Despite both dabbling in the transfer market during the winter break, neither side fielded any new arrivals in their starting lineups. For Shakhtar the Brazilian trio of Iván Saraiva, Jadson and Elano, a €7.6m signing from Santos FC, started on the bench. Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick, meanwhile, opted again for the in-form Ailton up front.

Initial threat
The away team started with confidence, Ebbe Sand tucking Niels Oude-Kamphuis's right-wing cross just the wrong side of Jan Laštuvka's left-hand post in the second minute. Although Shakhtar tried to rally, the visitors took the lead with their very next attack, Sven Vermant finding Sand with his back to goal, and his overhead kick freed Ailton for a clinical strike across Czech goalkeeper Laštuvka that crept in at the far post.

Brandão's strength
Shakhtar refused to panic and, thanks largely to the aerial strength of Brandão, they worked their way back into the game. The big Brazilian striker first tested Frank Rost with a dipping 25-metre strike four minutes after Ailton's goal and then forcing the Schalke goalkeeper to block a low shot with his outstretched foot.

Shakhtar break
Schalke largely relied on Ailton and Sand on the counterattack, but this approach almost backfired as Anatoliy Tymoschuk almost equalised after Shakhtar had cleared a rare Schalke corner. Julius Aghahowa had Shakhtar's best chance of the first period on 41 minutes, latching on to Razvan Rat's high ball, only for his thunderous strike to rebound off Rost's head. The goalkeeper required treatment, but was able to play on.

New legs
Elano came on for Shakhtar at the break as coach Mircea Lucescu looked for more creativity, and the Brazilian playmaker's first contribution was to curl a cross towards Aghahowa, but the Nigerian striker could only glance his header.

Aghahowa woe
Aghahowa's frustrating night continued in the 55th minute when he failed to beat the goalkeeper from deep inside the area with the goal at his mercy. With that miss Shakhtar's hopes seemed to be slipping away, with Laštuvka then forced to block well from Levan Kobiashvili.

Last word
Ailton almost snatched his second on 83 minutes, hitting the crossbar after Laštuvka had blocked his initial effort. But Shakhtar responded with one more sustained push, and Brandão finally gave them their reward to leave the tie perfectly balanced ahead of next week's second leg in Gelsenkirchen.

Goals: 7' Ailton (0-1); 86' Brandão (1-1)

Source: Uefa.com


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