Shakhtar Donetsk back in action after Russian invasion with last-minute Olympiacos friendly to kick off tour for Ukraine
10th April 2022

SHAKHTAR DONETSK returned to action for the first time since Russia's unjust invasion with a friendly 1-0 loss to Olympiacos on Saturday in a game which was put together only 42 hours earlier.

The Greek champions' president Evangelos Marinakis, who is also the Nottingham Forest owner, contacted Shakhtar on Thursday to organise a game in Piraeus before they kick off their international tour dubbed Football for Peace – Stop War in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian giants are set to hold games in Europe and the US in order to raise awareness about Ukraine's plight amid their war with Russia following Vladimir Putin's illegal attack on February 24.

Roberto De Zerbi's men agreed despite the late notice and flew to Athens from Turkey to take on Olympiacos at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium.

The much fitter hosts picked up the victory thanks to Tiquinho's winner on 22 minutes with a diving header after Giorgos Masouras headed the ball to Anatoliy Trubin's crossbar.

But the scoreline was the least of everyone's concern in an emotional evening that saw around 13,000 fans attending, including Ukrainians living in Greece watching a depleted yet relentless Shakhtar in action.

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Some of Greece's esteemed politicians also made it to the stadium despite the late notice, such as Foreign Secretary Nikos Dendias who greeted the players on the pitch before kick off with Ukrainian Ambassador Sergii Shutenko.

That was after Olya Polyakova delivered an emotional rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem followed by the Greek national anthem and a minute's silence for the thousands who have died during the conflict.

The visitors donned their signature orange kit with the name of cities that fiercely resisted Russia's aggressions written in the back, such as Mariupol, Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Chernihiv, Kherson, Okhtyrka and Mykolaiv.

A section of the stands was closed for fans as it was dedicated to the children that tragically perished in the war with toys placed in the seats as an emotional tribute.

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Shakhtar director of football Darijo Srna revealed his players didn't think twice before accepting the match despite the fact they haven't trained since January 19.

That includes Dmytro Myshnyov, who is the captain of Mariupol and joined up with the Donetsk giants for the tour despite recently losing his house to the war.

Srna told SunSport: “I’m always proud of my team, of our team. I spoke to the owner of Olympiacos and his son [Miltiadis] two days ago and we had an agreement to play a friendly game. And today 12,000 to 13,000 people [showed] respect for Olympiacos and my team because they are heroes.

“Their last training [session] was on January 19 and when I asked them if they are ready to play on Saturday they said: ‘Darijo, we are Ukrainians. We are ready for everything.’

“For example, today we played Myshnyov, who is captain of Mariupol, and he no longer has his house, his apartment, his car. And we took him here to play for us because he’s a symbol of Mariupol and we are really proud of that because we are all in a difficult situation”

Olympiacos star and former Arsenal ace Sokratis Papastathopoulos is proud of his team sending a "message of peace and unity around the world".

Sokratis told SunSport: "We certainly feel great. We’re very happy that we are sending such an important message even if it is only for just two or three hours. A message of peace and unity around the world.

“Sports, and generally football which is the king of sports always shares an important message. We are all here today to share a message of peace. A message of unity. And a message of solidarity around the world.

“When a rough, historic event takes place then the situation is very difficult. We are here to bring people together, to share a message of peace and to continue down that road so that we can also help however we can and as much as we can so that the war can end and peace can return to the world.”


Shakhtar ace Mykhaylo Mudryk will follow his team to the tour amid a "very difficult time" for everyone involved.

Mudryk told SunSport: "Our situation in our country is very difficult and we all pray for peace. We all pray for our country. It’s very important now.

“It’s a very difficult time for the whole team, but not only for the players. It’s for our families [also]. We support each other and our families. I think now one of the most important things is to do everything we can so that our family can be safe.”

Olympiacos manager Pedro Martins stated his team immediately agreed to help Shakhtar share their message of peace and hopes the war ends soon.

Martins told SunSport: "[It’s] Very hard. Since the first day, since Thursday, when our president asked us if we can play, we said yes we want to. It’s important for the club, it’s important for the world.

“It’s a big image we are transmitting to everyone. We are suffering with them because months ago they were playing like us in the big tournaments – Shakhtar, Dynamo Kiev, Dnipro. They have fantastic players, fantastic teams.

“And what I wish is for the war to stop as soon as possible so that people can return to normal. That’s what I wish. That’s what the symbolism was today. More than words, it was the respect and the feeling.

“I want peace, football is a message for everybody. That’s what we tried to pass today, to stop this war and let peace come as soon as possible.”


Olympiacos ace Oleg Reabciuk watches the situation closely and feels "really scared" as his country of Moldova shares a border with Ukraine and he has family living there.

Reabciuk told SunSport: "It’s a small gesture but we want to show people that we want peace and if we can do something then we are going to try to help.

“[I’m] Really scared because my father is from Ukraine, and I have a lot of family in Ukraine but I just hope that this ends soon and we have peace. They [Reabciuk' family] are okay, they have good health but it’s hard.

“Tonight’s message is very important and that is that if we don’t have peace then football doesn’t exist, nothing exists.”

Joao Carvalho, who joined Olympiacos from Forest in January, told Shakhtar's players he will pray for them and their families every day.

Carvalho told SunSport: "It’s always a difficult moment for the people living there and we did it because we need to show solidarity. I hope the future becomes better day by day, I was very proud to be on the pitch and to make a lot of money for them.

“I know what they [Shakhtar players] are feeling, when people are going through a difficult moment it’s not good to ask them if they are good or not because you know they are not good. But I told them I will pray every day for them and for their families.”

Shakhtar's tour kicks off on April 13 in Turkey with matches against Besiktas and Fenerbahce before flying to Poland to face Lech Poznan.

They will then go to the US to mix things up with New York FC and David Beckham's Inter Miami before visiting Canada to play with Toronto FC.

Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Benfica will follow in France, England and Portugal respectively.

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