Shakhtar Donetsk deserved winners against Barcelona

Danylo Sikan celebrates scoring a goal with his team-mates during the Champions League match between FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Barcelona at Volksparkstadion on November 7, 2023 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Fantasista/Getty Images)

Usually when a side like Shakhtar Donetsk beats a side like Barcelona, the thing to assume is there was a lucky bounce or the “bigger team” missed a lot of chances.

There’s also the urge to call it a “stunner” or an “upset.”

This was none of those things.

Shakhtar Donetsk picked up a well deserved 1-0 win against Barcelona to pick up their second Champions League win and draw level, for the moment, with Porto for the second spot in group H.

The lone goal came in the 40th minute when Danylo Sikan scored with a header, culminating a well-executed move from the home side.

That wasn’t the first time Shakhtar knocked on the door either. They had a couple of opportunities before then and could have scored another two or three on the night had it not been for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The Ukrainian side seemed to be first to every loose ball, pressured Barcelona exceptionally well and did not hoof it at every given moment. In fact, Shakhtar managed to evade Barcelona’s attempts at pressuring them high and rather easily always found an open player.

While Barcelona certainly made things easier for them, it’s not to take anything away from the victors.

They demonstrated in the match before that they could get at Barcelona. They had opportunities to find an equalizer in the 2-1 defeat from a couple of weeks ago.

Shakhtar did pull back once Xavi Hernandez made his substitutes but even so looked more likely to score a second than Barcelona where to an equalizer. They didn’t allow Robert Lewandowski any space nor any of the midfielders with time on the ball to try to pick out a pass.

Depending on what happens in the match between Porto and Royal Antwerp, Shakhtar Donetsk have a realistic chance of getting out of the group. Even if Porto manage to win, Shakhtar still have a game left against Porto which could very well be for a spot in the round of 16.

The win is made that much more impressive considering they had to play the game in Germany given everything that is currently going on in Ukraine. If the round of 16 ends up being a step too far, a win against Barcelona, even one as bad as this one, will still be a highlight of their Champions League campaign.