Ukrainian football returns after 254 days as Shakhtar and Metalist draw

By Sports Desk August 23, 2022

Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 on Tuesday contested a goalless draw that marked the return of top-flight football to war-torn Ukraine after a hiatus of 254 days.

The 2021-22 Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) season was due to resume for the second half of the campaign on February 25, but games were suspended after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine the day before.

Due to the ongoing conflict, the season was officially ended in late April with no teams having played more than 18 matches.

It was then announced in July that the UPL would start again on August 23, coinciding with Ukraine's National Flag Day and on the eve of the country's Independence Day.

Shakhtar, who were top of the table when last season was suspended, began the new term against promoted Metalist 1925 in an empty Olympic Stadium in Kyiv.

Neither side had played a competitive game for nine months, with Shakhtar's previous top-flight game being a 2-1 win at Oleksandria on December 11, 2021 just before the winter break.

Matches in the new UPL season will only be played at stadiums with air raid shelters and every game will take place behind closed doors.

Air-raid sirens remain common in the country but no such alarms were heard during Tuesday's game.

Prior to kick-off, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the players via video link, and the national anthem was played live in the stadium.

Mykhailo Mudryk went closest to scoring in the stalemate, with the Shakhtar talent hitting the crossbar in an otherwise uneventful contest.

Shakhtar will now turn their attention to Thursday's Champions League draw, which they will enter by virtue of being top when the 2021-22 season was stopped.

They will play their Champions League games in Warsaw this season.

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