Mircea Lucescu: Shakhtar team are still number one in Ukraine

Sunday, May 1, 2016

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FCSD

Press conference by Shakhtar head coach

- Honestly, this game is difficult to comment on. I’ve got a very unpleasant aftertaste. It seems that at the end of the match we witnessed some kind of bullfight. Stepanenko did nothing criminal. He just kissed the club crest, which many people do. He did not show any other signs that might humiliate the opponents, he just returned to the pitch. And then things began... Gonzalez hit him. Unclear. He was running to him... Probably, it was necessary at the time to finish the game to prevent the bloodshed that actually happened. Naturally, some other players got to the pitch to protect their colleagues and friends. I cannot understand why Stepanenko was sent off. For the fact that he kissed the crest? That’s an abnormal reaction. Over my entire career I have not seen such a reaction from the players to this elementary game situation. I want to congratulate Dynamo on claiming the league title. I know what it means to work throughout the year and fight for the title, to train. But today's match has once again confirmed what I have already said: there are some teams who do not play against Dynamo at full strength, at the same time giving their all against us, breaking our legs. In particular, it was noticeable the most in the most recent games, when the opponents were more than motivated. They took advantage of the fact that our players sometimes thought about the Europa League matches in order to keep themselves available and be able to play in the competition semi-finals. Still, we claim points for Ukraine as a whole! There was no protection from referees in those duels. Dentinho and Gladkyy still cannot recover from the meeting with Chornomorets. Today, unfortunately, we’ve had only 16 players... I'm happy with my team and I want to congratulate them on the fact that they’ve played today's match. Our congratulations on the patience which our players showed. Well done that they did not react to fouls. Once again we have showcased that we are a strong team, making no difference between substitute and main players. I am satisfied with the pairing of central defenders. It often happened that I criticized them, but now I want to praise them and congratulate them on a great, successful performance. In the future, they may well become the national team players. As for the trident Malyshev, Stepanenko amd Kovalenko, I think that in the encounters with their opponents who play for the national team in those roles, they have showcased today that they look better. On the football pitch it was seen with a naked eye.

- Before the match, there were comments that without defeating Shakhtar, Dynamo have no right to call themselves the undisputed champions. Today, have you got even more entrenched in this idea?
- I have already said and want to repeat this: once again I want to greet Dynamo on claiming the league title. This is a demonstration of the fact that some teams play against us in one manner, deploying another manner against them. And refereeing is similar: one type towards us, another towards them... But even in such circumstances, we have scored a record number of goals in the league. Besides the fact that we lost six players during this period. Anyway, I think we are still number one in Ukraine. I do not want to get distracted again. But it is possible to compare it to the Dnipro performance in Kyiv: how they played against Dynamo and how they played against us later... Once again, I am happy with the performance and the result. Being very upset by what happened at the end of the match.

- You have given some rest to many players today, still retaining the three midfielders. Did you want Ukraine coach to compare them with Kyiv midfielders?
- To be honest, we just could not replace them with anyone else. Those are the only players whose positions have no options. Had we had Dentinho, he would have played a hundred percent. But we had 16 players coming here. We considered other options: with Kobin in midfield and Kryvtsov at right back. But then, we should have deployed Kucher or Rakits’kyy, which is also not good before the game vs Sevilla. And Stepanenko, Malyshev and Kovalenko are young players. Hopefully, they will recover before the duel with Sevilla, looking great just as today.