Mircea Lucescu: Very tough match

Press conference of Shakhtar’s head coach after the victory over Anderlecht.

- It was a very difficult match. We expected this. We knew that we would play with the team, who wanted to prove that they were able to overturn our advantage. Anderlecht boast very big traditions in Europe. So we knew it would be difficult. Before the match, I said to my players that it was important to prevent the opponents from achieving a positive result at home. We knew that they would not take risks at the beginning of the game and rush forward, as we could hit them on the break, which would create big problems for them. Therefore, in the first half we dominated in terms of the organisation of the game and ball control. We virtually did not allow the opponents to take shots on goal, with the exception of those corners. By and large, in terms of goal-scoring opportunities, Anderlecht created nothing. In the second half they looked very confident. Sometimes, they acted harshly and probably infringed the rules. But the game discipline allowed us to cover areas, which didn’t allow Anderlecht to orchestrate positional attacks. Eduardo’s scoring flair and skilfulness led to our team scoring the only goal of the game and win.

- How would you assess the refereeing in this match? Have you seen replays of the two controversial episodes: when Anderlecht scored in the first half, and in the second half when the referee may have awarded a penalty kick against Shakhtar?
- In the first episode, the player pushed Ferreyra, and then he struck a shot. It was definitely a free-kick. But in general I can say that the referee let the teams play. It was a very tough match. There was a crazy Nahar foul on Ismaily when the referee waved play on, the opponents launched an attacking move and could have scored. The second half was particularly aggressive. The teams showed physical football. In particular, Okaka, who, due to his physical parameters, was constantly fouling on our players who were nearby. They also tried to engage in physical duels with him, but the difference in physical attributes was significant. I think the referee officiated today’s game well. The referee did not come under the influence and pressure from the crowd, interpreting all game episodes in the right manner.

- What team would you like to avoid in the next stage?
- I do not care who our opponents will be. We will play against anybody. At this level there are no weak teams. We try to prepare well for each stage. We know our current potential. We try to squeeze the maximum from what we can. I am not talking about the victory in the Europa League. We go into every match trying to show football, which Shakhtar can play in order to maintain a high level at which we have been at during the last few years. Shakhtar are the only team from Eastern Europe, who are now playing in the European competitions. This is also pride of the Ukrainian football: a team who have advanced further.

- How will you solve the problem of Kucher’s suspension, given that in a match with Dnipro those who played in his position didn’t really shine?
- We will see. In a duel with Dnipro, Kryvtsov was to blame for three goals; he did not observe the principles of the game in defence and the organisation, which is characteristic to our team. Next Sunday there will be a cup match with Vorskla, which we will play without players, who will be called up for international duty. Therefore Ordets and Kryvtsov will play; they will try to rehabilitate themselves, to show who is the best. I have not lost faith in them in any way. They will prepare, and then we’ll make a decision.

- Mister, how would you assess Taison’s performance tonight?
- I can only thank Taison for the fact that he took to the pitch. I do not know what other player would do that being in the same condition. He wanted to help the team very much, at the end of the game he felt a slight discomfort. We’ll see tomorrow. He played very well. Taison is an intelligent footballer, who plays a major role in the organisation of our attacks. Now he is no longer a counterattacking player he used to be at Metalist. Taison has become the player who knows how to operate in the attacking third in every situation on the pitch.