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Shakhtar play for first time since invasion of Ukraine in 'Stop War' friendly against Olympiakos

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Shakhtar Donetsk play for first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in ‘Stop War’ friendly against Olympiakos, as players emerge from tunnel draped in flags of their war-worn nation in emotional tribute

  • Shakhtar Donetsk played their first match since the invasion of Russia on Ukraine
  • The Ukrainian giants took on Greek side Olympiakos in a ‘Stop War’ friendly
  • Players walked out of the tunnel wearing flags in support of their war-torn nation

Shakhtar Donetsk played their first match on Saturday since Russia’s invasion on Ukraine in February.

The Ukrainian giants took to the field against Greek champions Olympiakos at the 32,000-seater Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, where 5,000 fans were in attendance.

Aimed to raise funds for refugees amid the ongoing crisis, the match was also for those affected by the invasion, whilst sending a message of peace.

Shakhtar Donetsk played their first match since the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February

Shakhtar Donetsk played their first match since the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February

Tiquinho netted the only goal of the game as Olympiakos secured a 1-0 victory on Saturday

Tiquinho netted the only goal of the game as Olympiakos secured a 1-0 victory on Saturday

Shakhtar will play across Europe in one of four clashes, with all gate receipts being donated to humanitarian and aid concerns in Ukraine.

Players wore shirts bearing the names of Ukrainian cities that have seen fighting in the war, as they emerged from the tunnel.

Toys were also collected for refugee children and a moment of silence held to honour those killed in the conflict.

Brazilian forward Tiquinho got the only goal in the 22nd minute, but sporting director Christian Karembeu and Shakhtar counterpart Sergei Palkin underlined that the result was of secondary importance.

Shakhtar's stars walked out wearing yellow and blue Ukraine flag in support of their country

Shakhtar’s stars walked out wearing yellow and blue Ukraine flag in support of their country

Ukraine continues to be under threat by Russian attacks, with hope the war will end very soon

Ukraine continues to be under threat by Russian attacks, with hope the war will end very soon

Toys, which will donated to refugee children, were placed on seats in the Karaiskakis Stadium

Toys, which will donated to refugee children, were placed on seats in the Karaiskakis Stadium

‘We are proud to host this event to raise awareness of the war. We use football as a tool for peace,’ Karembeu told reporters.

Palkin added: ‘We want to talk about war and peace in Ukraine in these matches. The need to end this madness and return to normal life and to rebuild the country.’ 

‘We want to talk about war and peace in Ukraine through these matches. About the terrible war that Russia unleashed against Ukraine, about the suffering and destruction that this war brought to our country,’ Palkin had said prior to Saturday’s match.

‘About peace – the need to end this madness, return to normal life and rebuild the country. Our messages are simple: stop war in Ukraine and football for peace – that says it all.’ 

The match was one of four the Ukrainian giants will participate in during their'Stop War' tour

The match was one of four the Ukrainian giants will participate in during their ‘Stop War’ tour

Olympiakos fans shown their solidarity towards the players throughout the match in Athens

Olympiakos fans shown their solidarity towards the players throughout the match in Athens

A total of 5,000 were inside the stadium, with supporters also seen holding up Ukraine flags

A total of 5,000 were inside the stadium, with supporters also seen holding up Ukraine flags

Olympiakos coach Pedro Martins also said he hoped Ukrainian teams ‘will soon return to European competitions and Ukrainians (will return) to normality.’

The match was, however, boycotted by an Olympiakos supporters’ group called ‘Gate 7’ who said their ‘ties with other teams do not allow us to be in favour of one side or the other’.

Shakhtar’s tour continues on April 14 against Lechia Gdansk in Poland, they then head to Istanbul to take on Fenerbahce five days later, before finishing in Croatia on May 1 against Hajduk Split.

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