Hamburg, Shakhtar take charge
Hamburg and Shakhtar Donetsk are on course to meet in next month's UEFA Cup final in Istanbul after shading the first leg of their respective semi-final ties this evening.
Piotr Trochowski scored a priceless away goal as Hamburg edged a compelling encounter with Werder Bremen 1-0. The all-German tie could have had more than the one goal it provided, and it was perhaps the most unlikely source of all that settled it as the diminutive Trochowski headed home powerfully after 28 minutes.
With Bremen star Diego pulling the strings in midfield the home side always threatened an equaliser, but it never came as Hamburg moved into the box seats ahead of next week's second leg on their home turf.
"My team did particularly well in the first half and even though Bremen were better after the break, we still created one or two chances," said Hamburg coach Martin Jol. "It's a good result for us - I have never seen Trochowski score with his head before!" added the former Tottenham bos.
But Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf insisted it will be a different matter at Hamburg next week. "My team needs to understand that a game consists of two halves and we must do well in both periods," said a disgruntled Schaaf. "Although it was an entertaining game, I think the replay will be a classic."
Shakhtar have one foot in the final as well after Luis Fernandinho grabbed a vital leveller to seal a 1-1 draw at Dynamo Kiev in a tense all-Ukrainian meeting. The hosts edged the contest over the 90 minutes but at the final whistle they only had a Dmytro Chigrinsky own goal midway through the first half to show for their efforts.
The dangerous Oleksandr Aliev was a threat going forward for Dynamo but despite the midfielder's best efforts the hosts were unable to increase their lead and paid the price as Fernandinho bundled an away goal over the line after 68 minutes.