Shaktar earn first audience in final 16
© AFP

Ukraine's 2009 UEFA Cup champions Shakhtar Donetsk reached the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time after defeating Portuguese side Sporting Braga 2-0 on Wednesday.

A dour match was brought to life late in the game when Romanian international defender Razvan Rat opened the scoring with the hosts nailing their place in the last 16 and top spot in Group H shortly afterwards through Luiz Adriano. Defeat ended the visitors hopes of progressing - though Arsenal's win at home to Partizan Belgrade would have made even a Braga win in Ukraine fruitless.

Braga were already up against it as Shakhtar went into the match unbeaten in ten games in all competitions since being hammered 5-1 by Arsenal and unbeaten in 52 successive home clashes since a defeat back in late October of 2008.

The tone of the match was set right from the whistle as Shakhtar defender Alexiy Zai clattered into Leandro Salino and the rest of the first-half was peppered with similar physical contests and little in the way of goalmouth action.

The crowd at least had some encouragement at the end of the first-half as first Dario Srna forced Braga goalkeeper Artur into saving his freekick and then Alan's shot had Shaktar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov earning his keep in stopping his shot.

However, the same montononous pattern repeated itself in the second-half until Rat popped up to break the deadlock and send the home fans into raptures as he fired in from outside the area. Having got the lead Shakhtar visibly relaxed and it was little surprise when Adriano doubled their advantage.