These winter visits to Kharkiv only get better for Mircea Lucescu. The Turkey manager was at the Metalist Stadium to watch his former club, Shakhtar Donetsk, beat Manchester City 2-1 in December. He was there again Wednesday to see them repeat the trick against Roma.
Better yet, he might even have been able to pass this one off as a business trip. Lucescu had no players to scout in that first fixture - simply attending out of affection for his former club, and for the joy of immersing himself back into the improbable Brazilian football culture that he installed there.
This time, things were different. Roma had a Turkish forward in its starting XI, and one who Lucescu will certainly want to keep tabs on. Cengiz Under had scored four times in his previous three games for the Giallorossi, and this was his first-ever Champions League appearance. It took him just 41 minutes to mark it with his first-ever Champions League goal.
Lucescu was already well aware of Under's talent, having handed the 20-year-old two starts for Turkey since taking the job over last summer. The player had only just scored his first league goal for Roma when his national-team manager lavished him with praise during an interview with Corriere dello Sport at the start of February.
"He has all the qualities you need," said Lucescu. "He's rapid, aggressive, he knows how to dribble, he feels the goal, he has an impressive shot. If he keeps listening to the coaches who are guiding him, he will have a great career."
Under endured a tough start to life in Italy, confessing that he had underestimated the challenges of adapting to a new culture on and off the pitch. But Lucescu says he helped convince the forward to stick it out instead of taking the easy option of a loan move in January - insisting that he would learn more by persevering.
Italian defending is not what it used to be. Only La Liga averages more goals per game than Serie A among Europe's top five leagues. But Under has unquestionably raised his game since he arrived, developing into exactly the sort of footballer that Lucescu adores: sudden, vibrant, and bold.
Brazilian, in other words, even if his passport and his parents say otherwise. Under's goal against Shakhtar was probably the easiest he has scored for Roma so far, a side-foot finish from 10 yards out after Edin Dzeko had put him clean through on the goalkeeper. Still, he took it with more composure than we had any right to expect from a young man appearing on this stage for the first time.
For the next step in his development, perhaps Under will want to revisit the footage of what happened next. Or, to put it another way, to learn from the actual South Americans.
It was an Argentinian, Facundo Ferreyra, who pulled Shakhtar level, capitalising on Roma's poor defending of a long ball forward to nutmeg Kostas Manolas and then sweep a finish into the bottom right corner. But it was Fred, one of the many Brazilians that Lucescu brought to the club, who stole the show with a brilliant winning goal. His 71st minute free-kick was perfection, kissing the crossbar on its way in.
The entire final act of this game was defined by his compatriots. Roma's goalkeeper, Alisson, had minutes earlier denied Taison - a former teammate in Brazil's youth teams - with an astonishing save on a shot that was swinging away from him into the very top corner. In the dying seconds, Bruno Peres blocked a shot on the line to prevent Roma from falling further behind.
How vital might that intervention prove? At 2-1, this tie still feels finely poised ahead of the return leg at Roma's Stadio Olimpico. Under's away goal provides the Giallorossi with grounds for optimism. It is certainly a much better result than the one they got the last time they faced these opponents in a Champions League knockout tie, back in 2011, when they lost the first leg 3-2 at home on the way to a 6-2 aggregate defeat.
Yet Shakhtar will draw encouragement from yet another impressive victory in this competition, having already defeated both City and Napoli in Kharkiv. And when it comes to game-changing forwards, they might have the edge. In Under, Roma has unearthed a Turkish talent with a dash of South American flair. But Shakhtar, thanks in great part to Lucescu, is absolutely awash in the real thing.