Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Rise and Rise of Knyazha

I have to admit the rise of Knyazha Shaslive completly passed me by. In my defence they play in the second league, which usually has midweek fixtures and despite their name have moved to Boryspil, which is 40km from Kyiv. In fact I probably wouldn't have visited their game last week if the premier league hadn't finished early due to the Euros. Well, why would I? Both Arsenal and Dynamo play at stadiums within walking distance of my flat afterall.

It's also easy to be a bit cynical about Knyazha, they were formed in 2005 and formed in the village of Shaslive, which had been devoid of football since Obolon got their new ground, their second team moved to Boridyanka amd CSKA 2 became effectively CSKA. In their original press release there is no mention of the Knyazha Finance Group, who are part of a much bigger Austrian Company being involved, which is indeed suspicious. I initially assumed it was the vodka company of the same name, as this type of sponsorship is one way that alcohol companies get around advertising legislation. I also therefoe thought their victories would be short lived and the vodka boys would lose interest. Nevertheless Knyazha Insurance have put their money where their mouths are, again it is easy to be cynical, as they now play in Boryspil in the kolos stadium. The original team Borysfen, who only a couple of years ago were in the Vishe Liha went bankrupt in 2007, and Knyazha seem to be picking up their support. They have already been promoted to the first division.

It all still sound like The Man interfering in football and a nasty franchise, but they seem serious and the company is involved in a lot of charity work in the country. Nevertheless, what has really softened me towards them was that on Thursday they opened a domed stadium at Shaslive with an astro pitch and temperature control, so that it can be used all year round. There are also 500 seats in it. Not enough, you might say. However, it's not for the team it's for the school kids in the village. Fair play to them indeed.

The photo shows kids at the opening of the domed stadium in Shaslive on Thursday.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Booze, Booze and More Booze

Obolon are sponsored by a brewery and Desna come from Chernihiv that is famous for its brewery, so guess what yesterday's pre, during and post-match entertainment included?

Yep, beer and lots of it. There was no poncey kashtanchik, no go-go girls, just good honest ale. which was just aswell, as although the game was billed as a promotion challenging match it was rather disappointing. To be fair Desna brought a lot of fans who made a lot of noise and dominated for most of the game. However, it was Obolon who went ahead on the 38th minute and then who finished the game off with a penalty early on in the second half.

The weather was sunny and it was probably Obolon's biggest crowd of the season, but for some unknown reason only a few big wigs were allowed in the main stand. We eventually got programmes, although I think we annoyed Tatarchuk in the process and we did get to meet ex-CSKA legend and now member of Desna, Mamadi Sangare. Ex-Dynamo and Ukrainian National Team manager Josef Szabo was also in attendance, but we gave him the cold shoulder!
Top photo shows the Desna fans
Below: Obolon weather another Desna attack

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Club Focus - Chernihiv Desna

Obolon's opponents today are Chernihiv Desna, unfortunately unlike most of the other teams I have written a focus on they have quite an unremarkable history. In fact one of the most important facts is that when they were formed in 1960 they had a young goalkeeper known as Viktor Bannikov between the posts. He later became one of the best goalkeepers in the USSR and was a visionary when he was a director of the Football Federation of Ukraine. His influence was so great that now the training pitches for the underage Internationals (and sometime venues) are named after him at the House of Football. There is also a tournament named after him. for more details see some previous posts:

Anyway, as I was saying Desna have not had the most glorious of histories. They spent most of their history in the 2nd division of the Soviet League. On formation of the Ukrainian League they played for the first 5 seasons in the first division, where they struggled before being relegated to the second division, where despite the odd trip to the first league they have been since.

The last couple of seasons, though they have been in the first division and this season has been their most successful to date. For the most part of the season they have occupied an automatic promotion spot along with Obolon, however at the moment Obolon are 3rd and Desna are 4th. It is clear that Illichevets Mariupol will take first place, but 2nd is still up for grabs and Obolon, FK Lviv, and Desna all have a shout (if they want it). All of these clubs seem to fear the Vishe Liha and the cost it entails. It also looks like the new Premier League will be going ahead in July, so Desna might be denied (saved from) a trip to the highest levels of Ukrainian football.

One interesting fact about Desna is that they play at the Yuri Gagarin stadium, as the famous cosmonaut did his initial training in Chernihiv

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

So, How Do the Experiences Add up?

Although I am biased to CSKA I wondered how the 2 experiences of the weekend matched up against each other, and will try to remain disinterested:

The Football

Unfortunately, there is no competition here, Knyazha are on an upward march and CSKA are on a downward spiral. We were happy to chat during the CSKA game, but the Knyazha match held our attention from beginning to end

CSKA 0 Knyazha 1

The Stadium

Although Chapaevka holds a certain charm it's still a training camp and has plastic pitches. The ground at Boryspil is fit for the Premier League and the seats are in a lot better condition than at most Vische Liha grounds.

CSKA 0 Knyazha 2

The Fans

The CSKA fans are a bunch of nutters and have some misguided views, but they are friendly, know their football and get behind their team. One Knyazha fan actually asked us which team was Knyazha, which would have been daft enough even if it didn't have it written on their shirts.

CSKA 1 Knyazha 2

The Atmosphere

The CSKA boys made some noise, any noise at the Knyazha game was drowned out by techno remixes of Depeche Mode coming from the AIDS awareness festival in the park behind the stadium.

CSKA 2 Knyazha 2

The Booze

Chapaevka has a shop where you can buy beer and it might be hit or miss if they don't keep enough coldies in stock. The kiosks near the ground at Boryspil suffer from the same problem, however Chapaevka has a pub opposite, which is pretty welcoming to foreigners. In Boryspil the only pub I saw was in a cinema, which is never a good omen.

CSKA 3 Knyazha 2

The Programmes

Easy enough to come by and of reasonable quality at Knyazha. At CSKA we didn't get any, as you had to negotiate with the toothless buffoon. Also they looked fairly crap and like more rubbish glorifying hooliganism

CSKA 3 Knyazha 3

The Facilities

Stadium Kolos used to have the worst toilets known to man. They have built some new ones, but by the end of the game they were getting pretty rancid and most people couldn't be bothered to wait in the queue. Where as CSKA play at dynamo's training camp and only the finest porcelain will do when you are faking those pesky UEFA drug tests.

CSKA 4 Knyazha 3

So, there we go Knyazha scores higher in most of the categories that matter, but CSKA win on the strength of their bogs.

The Other Side of Football

If Saturday's trip to Chapaevka was all about disenfranchised football, tjhen the trip to Boryspil to see Knyazha take on Veres Rivne represented the other side of the coin.

Knyazha Shaslive started out in the village of shaslive in 2005 and have been heavily bank-rolled by the Vienna Insurance Group. They are now at the top of division 2 A and will take part in the first division, probably at the expense of CSKA next season.

The whole match experience was in sharp contrast to the CSKA game on Saturday. CSKA play in a modern area out of the town, Knyazha play in a stadium that is good enough for the Premier League, and indeed was used in the Premier League by Borysfen, before they went bankrupt last year in a town which is still remeniscent of the Soviet Period. CSKA have loyal fans and Borysfen rent fans from wherever possible.

As for the football, Knyazha are a very good team for this level they played an entertaining brand of football with fluid passing and were unlucky to win only 1-0. Veres didn't really create any chances at all, but were kept in the game by their maverick goalkeeper, who not only managed to keep the ball out of the net, but also to psyche the Knyazha forwards out.
Notes on photos from top to bottom:
A statue of Lenin: Quite unusual to see nowadays in the ex-Soviet Union, but one of many of the past relics of the Soviet Union in this town
The entrance to the stadium 'Kolos'
Where the visiting VIPs sit
Spot the ball: Yet another corner for Knyazha that is cleared by the Veres keeper.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Disenfranchised Football

The term in England is associated with FC United and Wimbledon, in Ukraine it can easily be applied to CSKA Kyiv. Whereas the term in England seems to convey a bunch of idiots who think they invented non-league football and who have a God given right to have promotion every year the Ukrainian model is somewhat different.

Yeterday, me and Phil travelled to Chapaevka to see CSKA take on PFK Sevastapol. In 2001 they were flying high in the top half of the Vishe Liha, doing well in Europe and playing in their own stadium, yesterday they were playing at Dynamo's training ground and were relegated to the third level.

It wasn't all doom and gloom though, unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries so I don't have any pictures, but the place is quite eye catching. There are 3 pitches with stands for people to watch the football from set in an ancient forest and the skyline yesterday was indeed dramatic. There's also a shop next to the ground and over the road a restaurant that serves some of the freshest beer I've had in a long time. The fans despite their notorious reputation were also friendly. I think it helped that I had a CSKA scarf on and that we bought them beer from the shop because they were banned, but I think we would have got a decent reception anyway, for them it was probably like if a couple of Brazilians turningd up to support Buxton. One of them also recognised us from the old days and spent the second half speaking at us in pidgin English. Anyway, a good time was had by all, well if we forget about the football that is.

One thing that is a bit of a mystery is why CSKA have to play in Chapaevka in the first place. It's true that their ground is a disgrace and was in bad need of repair even 8 years ago, but it seems funny that Arsenal Reserves are allowed to play there but CSKA aren't. One thing that is very apparent is that although they play at the Dynamo Training Complex they obviously don't train there. The pitches at Chapaevka are plastic, which usually gives the home team an advantage, but the CSKA players seemed as confused on it as the Sevastapol players. However, it was CSKA who went ahead on 34 minutes with a neatly slotted in goal. The celebrations were shortlived though, as Sevastapol scored straight after the centre with a goal that the keeper got to, but hit the post and deflected back in. Sevastapol then made sure of the victory straight after the second half. What followed was a pretty open game, but to be honest CSKA didn't really look like scoring.

The fans seem to remain optimistic though, they might not go down because of the restructuring of the league that the new premier league entails and if they do go down they can go and visit places they would never usually go to, seemed to be the general consensus. To be honest I can't wait to go again.

I'll have to try and find some photos when the Sevastapol and CSKA websites are updated or wait until Phil can send me some.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Club Focus - PFK Sevastapol

Sevastapol is a complicated city and so is its football history. For most of the period when the Soviet Union was in existence it was a closed city, due to the fact that it was the country's ship building and naval base. It became Ukrainian when The Crimea was given to Ukraine by Krushcev, but it has always seen itself as a Russian city. This is true of most of the Crimea, but even more so of Sevastapol, perhaps because it is also geographically the closest city in the region to Russia. It has led to political problems up to the present day, infact only last week Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow became persona non gratis in Ukraine for suggesting that the city was Russian. Well, their team plays in the Ukrainian League, so they must be Ukrainian in my opinion. However, the history of football in the city mirrors the complicated nature of the region itself.

According to the official website the history of football in Sevastapol began in 1912 when the Russian Football Union was formed. I don't quite know how this directly links to Sevastapol, as the first football team to be based in the city was Yuzhni Metalist who were formed in 1923 by the Suderremontov Ship Building Company. This team was well regarded in the Soviet Union and they often took place in International Tournaments and players from this club formed the backbone of the Crimean National team.

In 1936 a new club superceeded them. Sudostroytel were formed by Sergey Orzhonkidze's Ship Building Factory. However, World War 2 soon put an end to them making progress. In 1949 normal service was resumed and they took part in the Second division of the Soviet League.

As I already mentioned football in the city is complicated and Sudostroytel eventually disappeared to be replaced by the Navy's team SKChF in 1954 and yet another team, Chaika in 1966-67.

From 1971 Sevastapol took part in the 2nd Division of the Soviet League with highlights being 6th place finishes in 1981 and 1982.

In 1992 Sevastapol joined the Ukrainian first division, but it proved too hard for them and they quickly slipped into the 2nd division and then vanished from existence. A new team emerged in 1996, known as Chernomorets and they also played in Ukraine's basement division, however they too disappeared in 1999. From 2000-2001 a new club represented the city under the name of Chaika VMS, however they soon went bankrupt and Sevastapol was again looking for a team.

Finally in 2002 the current club emerged and despite an ominous opening match in which they lost 6-0 to Chernomorets Odessa they are now playing in the first division and seem to be safe in the lower half of the table. They also seem to have the financial security that their forefathers didn't with a new stadium and a sponsorship deal with Privat Bank (who also sponsor Dynamo). The future might not be really bright, but at least it appears to be secureYH

Big Phil Hits Town

Well, Big Phil hits town this week, which should see a bumper weekend of football as CSKA take on PFK Sevastapol on Saturday in the first division and Knyazha take on Veres in the 2nd on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll get to both of the games, but he's a funny bugger sometimes, so let's just hope he doesn't leave me in the lurch!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Final Standings

1.Шахтар 74

2.Динамо 71

3.Металіст 63

4.Дніпро 59

5.Таврія 47

6.Арсенал 42

7.Чорноморець 38

8.Ворскла 36

9.Металург З 36

10.Карпати 33

11.Зоря 31

12.Металург Д 31

13.Кривбас 30

14.ФК Харків 27

15.Нафтовик-Укрнафта 26

16.Закарпаття 18

The Naked Truth

On Saturday me and Nadiya went to see Arsenal v FK Kharkiv on the last day of the season for the Vishe Liha. the game finished 0-0 and there was little excitement. I can't really complain as it was the first 0-0 I'd been to since Arsenal took on Kryvbas in October. FK Kharkiv created the most chances, which is understandable as they were in a position they could have been relegated from. However, they weren't and Naftovik Ukrnafta went down. This was a bit of a shame, as from what I have seen FK Kharkiv are the weaker of the two teams. Arsenal looked like they were on holiday already and only Jose looked like he could be bothered.
The trend of footballers dreaming of a few weeks on the beach seemed to have been nationwide, and as Ewig pointed out we had seen some good games at Arsenal, as up until last week they were still in a position that they could get into the Intertoto Cup from. On the other hand Metalurh Zapporizhya had been on holiday for weeks, as they were firmly rooted in mid-table. Every game apart from shaktar, who as expected beat Metalurh Donetsk (4-1) and Zorya who beat the already relegated Zakarpattiya 2-0 ended in a draw. It seemed like the fans didn't expect anything more either as at Arsenal and from the highlights I saw on TV nearly every stadium was even more empty than usual.
This leads onto the next question, a lot has been said about the new formation of a Premier League in Ukraine, like every other sector of life in Ukraine the people behind it have talked about corruption and money and not convinced anyone that it's not going to be yet another Animal Farm scenario. Also like everything else they want to steamroll it in as soon as possible and sod the consequences. What they really need to do is just make things a bit more exciting. I propose a 3rd relegation place with a play-off against the team finishing 3rd in division 1 and a play-off between 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th for a crack at the Intertoto. They only play 30 regular games after all. If this doesn't work then a split like the Scottish League could be the answer.
Another problem that has raised its head this week is the apparent lack of organisation, which leaves fans demotivated and confused. Up until Thursday evening all matches were scheduled for Sunday evening, then someone realised it was memorial day and all of a sudden the games were switched to Saturday. Arsenal was supposedly at Dynamo stadium and then on Friday evening it was switched to Respublikansky.
Notes on photos:
Top: Pre-match entertainment as some birds get their kits off
Bottom: After natch entertainment, the Arsenal players realise that some of the fans don't have shirts, so rush to give them theirs

Kashtanchik Family

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What the Future Holds

Here's the trophy that Dynamo and Shakhtar are playing for today, but how long the vishe Liha will have its current format is up for questioning.

It appears that the Arsenal owner has come up with the idea of making the vishe Liha more attractive. The details are a bit hazy at the moment, but the idea is that they break away in the same way that the English Premier League did. Some of his ideas are sensible, like lowering referee's salaries to stamp out corruption ( at the moment they are the best paid in the World), getting TV to pay for rights to show football instead of the current situation where the clubs pay to have their games shown and raising revenue and interest through commercial ventures. Some of the other ideas like clubs having to have a certain amount of cash to enter the league and an end to government subsidies are definitely motivated by self interest. He's one of the fat cats and the new format might even exclude big clubs like Dnipro, Metalist and Kryvbas.

I think there are probably more important things for people to worry about at the moment, so when and if these changes will take place is debatable.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Way Things Stand

So tomorrow is the last day of the season for the Vishe Liha and as I've already said most eyes are on the battle for the championship with shakhtar leading by 1 point ahead of Dynamo. Most other issues have been resolved, as Metalist and Dnipro will be playing in the UEFA Cup and Tavriya will be in the Intertoto. In 6th place are Arsenal, who I will be going to watch, the highest Arsenal can finish is 6th and the lowest they can finish is also 6th. Their opponents, FK Kharkiv will be hoping to avoid the drop. At the bottom of the table are Zakarpattiya, who have already been relegated and they will be joined in the 1st Division with either Naftovik Ukrnafta, who are on 25 points, and who will take on Vorskla at home, Fk Kharkiv on 26 points and Zorya who are on 28 and who play Zakarpattiya away.

As the Vishe Liha finishes I'll be concentrating on the lower divisions. There are still 8 games to play in the 1st division and at the moment it is led by Illichevets Mariupol, who are on 66 points. Obolon are still clinging on to second place with 61 points, but a 4-0 defeat away to FK Lviv this week hasn't done their credentials much good. FK Lviv and Desna Chernihiv are now breathing down their necks on 60 points. Sadly, at the other end of the table CSKA look like being relegated, along with Stal Dnipropetrovsk they are pretty much adrift at the bottom and losing this week to 3rd from bottom Pheonix Illichevets has not done them any good at all.

There's better news in the second division as group A is led by Knyazha, who are based just outside Kyiv in Shastlive ( where Obolon and CSKA-2 have played in the past), although they seem to play at the more accessible stadium in Borisfe. They are currently 10 points clear with 6 games left.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

Yamolenko repays semin's faith in youth by scoring in the last minute, although to be honest it was a bit flukey

Up to His Old Tricks

Yarmash lobs Shovkovskiy in specatacular/ farcical fashion to make it Dynamo 1 Vorskla 1

Ninkovic Does the Trick

Ninkovic does Dynamo's usual trick and scores early on against Vorskla

Hope's the Last to Die

Hope's the last to die the buffoon with the microphone said before Dynamo's match with Vorskla on Sunday and for once his words seemed apt.

Dynamo on the previous Wednesday had lost the cup final to shakhtar and with 2 games left were a point behind Shakhtar. Dynamo faced Vorskla at home and then this week have a tricky game away to third place Metalist, whereas Shakhtar faced the truly pathetic FK Kharkiv away followed by a home game against Metalurh Donetsk this week. To put it politely Metalurh are less than adverse to helping their neighbours out. Elsewhere I was waiting to see if Villa could pull of a miraculous entry into Europe - they didn't, but got an intertoto place and was sweating to see if this computer could be brought back to life.

Dynamo managed to win this game, although they made heavy work of it and Shakhtar managed to beat FK Kharkiv without breaking a sweat, so it's all down to the wire on Sunday.

This was one of the best games I've seen this season. Dynamo went ahead early on, and there was a feeling of inevitability about what was going to happen. However the ubiquitous Vorskla, who looked so weak against Metalist, and who put up a reasonable fight against Arsenal played this game like their lives depended on it and put in one of the most spirited performances of the season. Vorskla managed to get back into the game just before half-time and dug their heels in during the second half.

Semin, the Dynamo coach, was celebrating his birthday and it looked like he wasn't going to have much to celebrate. He has really turned the club around after a lacklustre first half of the season and cleared out a lot of the older players, however on this occassion a few older heads might have mad lighter work of it.

In the second half Dynamo were on fire and Ghioane was particularly impressive, whereas Milevskiy and Shatskih were not. However, most impressive of all was the Vorskla captain and keeper, who on this performance should be in the national team. His defining moment came on 77 minutes when he saved a Carlos korrea penalty. However, Dynamo managed to bundle a goal in with the last kick of the game and keep their slender championship hopes alive.
Notes on photos:
Top: Dynamo fans
Bottom: Heads down as Dynamo prepare to take the centre after Vorskla draw level

Geroiv Dnipro

Geroiv Dnipro is the name of the nearest station to the Obolon ground, which means Heroes of the Dnipro and is a tribute to those killed in action during World War 2. so it seems fitting that I visited this part of town on Victory Day for Obolon's game against Stal Dnipropetrovsk. We also had our own hero of the Dnipro in Sean who decided to go for a swim in the river at Hydropark with all his clothes on before the game. Unfortunately the effort to get him dry meant we were 30 minutes late for kick off and missed both of Obolon's goals.

Obolon went on to win the game 2-1, with Stal scoring a consolation goal in the last minute of the game, which I didn't miss. Obolon now look like they can't avoid promotion, famous last words.

The game was entrtaining enough with both sides coming close to scoring on several occassions, although Obolon always had the upper-hand. Fair play to stal though, as teams who are 2-0 down away from home often give up, but they didn't.

In contrast to my previous visit to the stadium the weather was perfect and the attendance was large. Despite missing the goals fun was had by all, especially, as is always the case at Obolon the beer was flowing. The difference being on this ocassion I wasn't mixing my pint 50/50 with rain water.

Note on photo:

Another chance created by Obolon results in a great save

Kashtanchik Says it with Flowers

For some reason Arsenal seem to think that the more crap that they give away the more fans they'll attract. I have a more novel idea, why don't they just spend the money on assembling a squad who can at least compete for a UEFA cup spot instead of wasting money on cheap gimmicks?

To be fair I received free tickets for this match - and I usually do from the official fan club. However, all the lads were away for this game, but I still managed to pick up some, when Nadiya spotted some girls handing out free tickets outside Teatralna Station. That said, I also bought 2 and don't mind paying for them. Arsenal's tickets cost 5 UAH (about 45p), which sounds ridiculously good value for money even if you compare it with Dynamo (25UAH), Metalist (35UAH) and Chernomorets (30UAH). This still doesn't stop people touting the free tickets outside the ground though. Added to this ol' concker head was handing out free flowers and there were free snacks and soft drinks for everyone at this game. Added to this is the expense of the club renting out Respublikansky Stadium for every home game, oh and the Playboy models who provide the half-time entertainment of course. The Playboy models have been associated with the club for a while, but I have to feel responsible for some of the other stuff. I happened to mention to someone with connections to the club how much the kids enjoyed FC Seoul matches, because of the free stuff. The big difference here is though Arsenal haven't got the cash to burn and most real fans would definitely prefer to see the investment go on players or the club to start building a stadium of their own.

Anyway, as for the match Karpaty were dreadful and didn't create any chances. You have to think that they are the Newcastle of Ukraine, as they have a big fan base, are out on a limb geographically and always disappoint their fans. Arsenal on the other hand have shown great form in the second half of the season and managed to win this game 2-0 with goals from Seliymanov (Who else?) and Evseev, despite a rather lacklustre performance and Seliymanov spending most of the game off-side. If only they could have played like this in the first half of the season they would now be safely in the UEFA cup. At the time of the match, on 4th May they still had a shot at the Intertoto, but after drawing away to Kryvbas on Sunday - you can guess the score - 0-0 they are now out of Europe.
Notes on photos:
Top: Can you spot Concker head?
Bottom: This is the venue for the Euro 2012 final, in one of the better sectors. Will it be ready?

Dodgy Clocks and Water Logged Pitches

This game took place on the 29th April, and when I came home from it was when I realised my computer had been broken.

The game took place between FK Obolon and Helios Kharkiv. Recently Obolon seemed to have been bottling it quite badly, as they often do in the second half of the season and they have been overtaken by Illichevets in first place. However, this game went some way in dispelling rumours that they were to start throwing games as they won this hard fought battle 2-0.

The weather conditions were less than ideal and me and Andriy got the soaking of our lives. This didn't seem to bother the referee though, or he wasn't wearing a waterproof watch, or for some reason he wasn't aware that football matches go on for 45 minutes a half rather than an hour. Either way he didn't have the best of matches and sent off 2 players (1 from each team) for sliding tackles, which the slippery pitch made look a lot worse than they really were.

Obolon created plenty of chances and Helios a few, but they were unable to take advantage for the period that they had an extra player on the pitch.

You could tell the weather was terrible, as you know you are at a hardcore match when Hardcore Boy and Karpaty Grandad are the first 2 people you see when you enter the ground.

Back On-Line

Well, I've been away for a while, because Sean broke my computer and I've only just got it back. There are plenty of things that have happened and I'll be catching up with all the matches I haven't posted here as soon as possible.

In Ukrainian football Shakhtar won the Ukrainian Cup by beating Dynamo in a bad tempered cup final, which saw 3 Dynamo and 2 Shakhtar players being sent off. Zakarpattiya have been relegated and a Ukrainian last night lifted the UEFA Cup, when Tymoshchuk's Zenit beat Rangers 2-0.

In English football Man United won the league, Blues were relegated, Villa came 6th and Olaf Mellberg gave everyone a shirt at his last game for Villa.

The match reports might be a bit limited at the moment, as I really need to catch up with what has happened as the Vische Liha enters its last round this weekend.