Mircea Lucescu: Today, the players were tired

Press conference by Shakhtar head coach after the match against Stal.

- It was a good game. The first half was more passive, with the opponents defending well, while in the second half they got bolder, exposing themselves and attacking more often. Perhaps, after the break they looked fresher. We created several scoring chances. But I think the 2-0 scoreline is just what we needed today. We claimed the three points. We made multiple changes in the team squad, with seven new players appearing, plus two more coming on in the course of the match. The substitution players didn’t get in very well - they looked very slack, and this affected our offensive performance. They easily lost the ball. They must come on as sub players just differently. I liked Stal due to their aggressiveness and form. Their ambition and good defensive organisation were evident. The rivals carried out good attacks, which caused us some unpleasant moments.

- What caused that kind of second-half performance? Was it your plan to play defensively?
- We didn’t quite succeed in the second half. Our opponents probably looked more spectacular.

- Why did you decide to play at the Bannikov stadium and will you hold matches here in the future?
- We’ve had 75 air trips since the start of the year, so we decided to play here, in Kyiv. This Wednesday we are supposed to be back in Ternopil, just too many flights. In today's game it was obvious that the players are tired. They have numerous training sessions on this pitch. Therefore, the surface wasn’t that smooth. All this affected the performance. Although in recent days we have tried to bring the field into proper condition, but, perhaps, not everything worked.

- What do you make of Sarnavskyi’s performance? Today, he rescued the team in some episodes ...
- He didn’t start very confidently, but in the second half he played boldly, repeatedly rescuing the team and being attentive. He is a young keeper, a promising one, he uses his feet to a good effect, which is very important. That’s a major advantage when making transitions from defence to attack through a pass, especially since he uses both feet. He needs match practice.

- What’s your take on Bernard’s performance. The impression is that he isn’t fit enough.
- The players who came on as subs, looked worse physically than those who played in the starting line-up. Bernard feels our game better and better. Today, he operated well enough. I think that in the following games Bernard will step it up, performing well and being helpful to us.