No Diego but UEFA Cup final will have strong Brazilian influence

May 19, 2009

There will be a heavy Brazilian influence in Wednesday’s UEFA Cup final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen in Istanbul — despite the absence of Werder’s influential playmaker Diego through suspension.

Brazilian players have made a major impact in recent finals and with Ukraine’s Shakhtar boasting five in their ranks, and Naldo lining up for their German rivals, expect the boys from South America to take centre stage.

A quick look back at previous finals this decade shows the influence Brazilians have made.

In 2003, Porto became the first team to win the trophy on the now-defunct ‘silver goal’ rule thanks to Brazilian Derlei’s strike in extra time against Celtic.

Two years later Brazilian playmaker Daniel Carvalho played a starring role for CSKA Moscow, setting up all three of the Russian side’s goals, including one for compatriot Vagner Love, in the 3-1 victory over Sporting in the Lisbon final.

In 2006, Sevilla cantered to their first UEFA Cup triumph as a goal from Brazilian Luis Fabiano set the Spaniards on their way to a one-sided 4-0 demolition of Middlesbrough in Eindhoven.

Sevilla did it again the following year in Glasgow, Adriano scoring their opening goal before fellow Brazilian Jonatas got Espanyol’s equaliser in extra time in the 2-2 draw.

Shakhtar’s policy of signing promising Brazilians in recent years has also paid off with the Ukraine team, owned by Russian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, one game away from their first European silverware.

Ilsinho scored a superb late winner in the semi-final second leg against Dynamo Kiev after compatriot Jadson had netted Shakhtar’s first. Fernandinho scored Shakhtar’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw in the first leg while Willian and Luiz Adriano have also played their part.

PHOTO: Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho controls the ball during a practice session at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul, May 19, 2009. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

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