Skip to main content

UEFA Champions League: Shakhtar v Athletic Bilbao

The Ukrainian side can top Group H with a victory on Tuesday, as they close in on the knockout rounds.

To do that, they would need to win and for BATE to topple leaders Porto, but Mircea Lucescu's side are likely to be happy with simply securing qualification.

Shakhtar gave themselves every chance of progression with a comprehensive 5-0 win over BATE earlier this month, with Darijo Srna's early goal setting them on their way.

And they returned after the international break with a 2-0 win at Karpaty in the Ukrainian Premier League on Friday, with Alex Teixeira and Luiz Adriano scoring inside the first 23 minutes.

They will be looking for more of the same when the Spaniards arrive in Lviv, where Shakhtar continue to play their home games due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

"It's no secret that it is important for us to score an early goal," Bernard was quoted as saying by UEFA's official website.

"If we manage that, the game gets easier. It gives us confidence.

"I think it is better to start every match like that in order to achieve our goals."

Shakhtar - who sit second in the group with eight points, five more than the third-placed BATE - can only fail to make the round of 16 if they lose both remaining matches and BATE win theirs.

They sit third in the Ukrainian top flight thanks to Friday's win, with Dynamo Kiev still leading the way.

Bilbao's Champions League form has been awful, the Spaniards following up a 0-0 home draw with Shakhtar on matchday one - the only time the sides have met - with three successive defeats.

As a result, they sit bottom of the group with one point and can only hope to extend their continental adventure by featuring in the UEFA Europa League.

Just two points below BATE, that is a possibility, but getting a result in Ukraine looks tough for a side who have won just one of nine games on the road in all competitions this season.

Ernesto Valverde's men have at least won three of their last five in the league, form that has seen them rise to ninth in La Liga.

Aritz Aduriz has played a lone role up front for Bilbao this term, with five league goals, and he was on the scoresheet again in Friday's 3-1 home success against Espanyol.

Ander Iturraspe sealed the points with a stunning drive from distance as Bilbao scored more than once for the first time in a competitive match since August.