Manchester United close in on €50m Fred but balk at Milinkovic-Savic fee

• United hope to finalise deal with Shakhtar Donetsk
• Lazio asking price for Milinkovic-Savic is €100mManchester United are closing in on the signing of Brazil midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk for €50m (£43.7m) but an attempt to add Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to José Mourinho’s squad have been put on hold for now after Lazio set the 23-year-old’s asking price at €100m (£87.4m). United are in advanced talks with the Ukrainian club and representatives of Fred, who had also interested Manchester City as a potential long-term replacement for Fernandinho, and hope to finalise a deal in the coming days. Predominantly a defensive midfielder who can also play at left-back, the 25-year-old signed a five-year contract in January and was included in Brazil’s squad for next month’s World Cup. Continue reading...

Besiktas charged by Uefa after cat runs on pitch and delays match

• Cat appeared near corner flag in match against Bayern Munich
• Roma charged for time-wasting by ballboy shoved over hoardingBesiktas have been charged by Uefa after a cat ran on to the pitch during Wednesday’s Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich. The match was stopped early in the second half after the animal jumped from an advertising hoarding and ran to near a corner flag, just off the playing area, before leaping back into the stand. Continue reading...

Edin Dzeko sends Roma through against Shakhtar and into last eight

Roma are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2008 after beating Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 in their second-leg tie at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to a magnificent finish by Edin Dzeko, which sent them through on the away goal they scored in a 2-1 defeat in the first leg. Roma celebrated only their second win in six meetings with the Ukrainian side and got revenge for a 6-2 aggregate defeat by them at the same stage of the competition in 2011, although they endured a nervy finish. Continue reading...

Champions League: fans from around Europe preview the last-16 stage

Spurs dread in-form Juventus, Porto plan to cause an upset at Anfield and Neymar will show Spain what it is missing Juventus
If we play as solidly as we have done in the last few months, we will be tough to beat. After a slow start to the season we have picked up in defence and now, despite not looking electric going forward, we are becoming the Juve machine again. If we continue this ascent defensively, we will win games – we usually find a goal or two even when not playing brilliantly. Medhi Benatia has done well this season especially at home against Barcelona. I have also been impressed with Sami Khedira; he does a lot of work for the team. Blaise Matuidi also deserves a mention for giving us some much needed pace in midfield. Giuseppe Ciccarello Continue reading...

Champions League: how will your club do in the knockout stages?

With the Champions League returning for the knockout stages next week, we want to know how far you think your team will go The Champions League resumes for the last-16 stage next week with all five English clubs still in the competition. Both of the Manchester clubs and Liverpool will fancy their chances after a favourable draw, but Tottenham and Chelsea face tougher tasks. Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur: 13 February and 7 March
Basel v Manchester City: 13 February and 7 March
Porto v Liverpool: 14 February and 6 March
Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain: 14 February and 6 March
Chelsea v Barcelona: 20 February and 14 March
Bayern Munich v Besiktas : 20 February and 14 March
Sevilla v Manchester United: 21 February and 13 March
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma: 21 February and 13 March Continue reading...

Champions League power rankings: Manchester City are the team to beat

Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are the four teams to avoid in what will be a competitive draw for the last-16 on Monday By Martin Laurence and Ben McAleer for WhoScored? The last-16 stage of the Champions League promises to be extremely competitive. Two of the semi-finalists from last season have been knocked out already; Atlético Madrid have been relegated to the Europa League and Monaco, who didn’t win a single match in their group, are out of Europe altogether. Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Chelsea – all of whom have played in at least one of the last six finals – failed to win their groups, meaning there will be some even bigger casualties when the knockout stages return in February. It is difficult to separate remaining sides in the competition but, by looking at their domestic form this season and performances in the Champions Continue reading "Champions League power rankings: Manchester City are the team to beat"

Shakhtar Donetsk manager dresses up as Zorro after Champions League win – video

Paulo Fonseca, the Shakhtar Donetsk manager, conducts his post-match news conference in a Zorro costume on Wednesday. Fonseca promised to dress up as the masked vigilante if his side qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League. The 2-1 win over Manchester City sealed the club’s place in the knockout stage Continue reading...

Champions League roundup: Cristiano Ronaldo sets record in Real romp

• Madrid forward scores his 18th Champions League goal of 2017
• Napoli keep alive hopes of Champions League progressCristiano Ronaldo set another Champions League record as the holders Real Madrid sealed their place in the knockout stages with a 6-0 win at Apoel Nicosia. Zinedine Zidane’s team had the match won by half-time with goals from Luka Modric, Nacho and a Karim Benzema double. Ronaldo got his goals early in the second half, and his two strikes saw him reach 18 goals in the competition in 2017 – more than any single player in a calendar year. Related: Spurs secure top spot after Son Heung-min screamer sinks Borussia Dortmund Continue reading...

What would a communist football competition look like? The Progress Cup

From 1971 until 1991 the most improved team in the Soviet Union was given the Progress Cup, a trophy that rewarded perseverance rather than excellence By Craig McCracken for Beyond The Last Man, of the Guardian Sport Network
I blame the Watney Cup. Ever since that particular 1970s English oddity set a high benchmark for outlandishly ill-conceived competition formats, I’ve long harboured a fascination for discovering obscure tournaments from around the world that might just match its plain out-and-out silliness. So while recently browsing the history of Shakhtar Donetsk (as you do), my curiosity was piqued by the inclusion on the club’s honours list of a Soviet-era tournament called the Progress Cup. Were Shakhtar’s 1975 and 1977 successes in this competition something for the Ukrainian miners club to celebrate? Was there a physical, hoistable piece of metal with handles involved or was it merely a symbolic award? I endeavoured Continue reading "What would a communist football competition look like? The Progress Cup"

A story of Shakhtar’s Samba stars 4 Min

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sam May returns to Penalty Mag with a look at the relationship between Shakhtar Donetsk and Brazilian footballers.

A glittering array of imports from the shores of Brazil has played a major role in establishing Shakhtar Donetsk as a force among European football, over the years. Backed by the financial clout of club owner Rinat Akhmetov and inspired by the leadership of 70-year old Romanian manager Mircea Lucescu, who was hired in 2004, they have become a force to be reckoned with. Donetsk was founded in May 1936 and the city hasn’t looked back since. Since the Ukrainian League was established in 1991, many Brazilians, such as Fernandinho, Willian, Fernando and Douglas Costa to name but a few, have graced the fields of the Donbass Arena, one of the finest football grounds in Europe. Dubbed The Brazilian Colony, the Eastern European powerhouse is seen as a Continue reading "A story of Shakhtar’s Samba stars 4 Min"

Sevilla make it a hat-trick of Europa League finals after seeing off Shakhtar

Kevin Gameiro scored twice as Sevilla saved their best form for the Europa League and made their third straight final with a 3-1 second-leg win over Shakhtar Donetsk. Gameiro picked up where he left off after grabbing a late equaliser in the first leg last week, firing a ninth-minute opener at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán to set his side on course for a 5-3 aggregate win. Shakhtar drew level through Marlos, but Gameiro’s second and a third for Mariano ensured the run of Unai Emery’s side would continue. Related: Liverpool push past 10-man Villarreal and into Europa League final Continue reading...

Shakhtar’s Darijo Srna: ‘We have lost our homes, our stadium and our fans’

Ukrainian club play Sevilla in Europa League semi-finals two years after Russian separatists forced them 700 miles away from their home city “I remember my last day in Donetsk,” says Darijo Srna, the captain of Shakhtar, a football club in exile. “It was 16 May 2014. We were told we had to leave quickly. I didn’t take anything from my home. We just took the two cars. My shirts are still hanging up in the wardrobe. I was the only one who believed it would be over quickly. I told everyone we would be back in six months.” Nearly two years later, Srna is sitting in the elegant, marble foyer of Kiev’s Opera Hotel, which has been Shakhtar’s base since pro-Russian separatists seized control of the Donetsk region, declared themselves independent from Ukraine and proclaimed the area the People’s Republic. It was the declaration that sparked a civil Continue reading "Shakhtar’s Darijo Srna: ‘We have lost our homes, our stadium and our fans’"