Breakout stars: Stunning goal helps Sheriff Tiraspol shock Shakhtar in Champions League bow for team from disputed region (VIDEO)

Sheriff Tiraspol pulled off a shock on their maiden appearance in the Champions League group stage as the minnows from the breakaway region of Moldova felled Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk.

Making history as the first team from their region to play in the group stage of European football’s biggest club competition, Sheriff ran out 2-0 winners on Wednesday night thanks to an acrobatic opening goal from Adama Traore and a second-half header from Momo Yasane – both assisted by Brazilian full-back Cristiano.

Shakhtar, who boast a host of Brazilians in the team and are regulars in the Champions League group stage, dominated possession with 75% of the ball and managed 20 shots – but only landed three on target.

The hosts were indebted to Greek goalkeeper Giorgos Athanasiadis for some strong stops, including from a deflected effort from Marlos in the second half.   

Sheriff were making history as the first representatives from the Moldovan league to reach the Champions League group stage, having come through the qualifying rounds to get this far.

The minnows are from the breakaway region of Transnistria, an area which borders Ukraine and has been a de facto independent state since a brief civil war in 1992, but which is without UN recognition. 

Sheriff are bankrolled by a sprawling company of the same name which has interests in numerous areas of the local economy, and the team are managed by Ukrainian former Zenit St. Petersburg player Yuriy Vernydub.

They fielded an all-foreign starting line-up for their historic match on Wednesday, mainly stocked with players from South America and Africa, but also including Uzbek forward Jasurbek Yakhshiboev and Luxembourg international Sebastien Thill. 

Sheriff will continue their fairytale Champions League journey against Spanish giants Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in their next Group D match on September 28.

Following that will be a visit to another iconic stadium, the San Siro, when they take on Inter Milan in October. 

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