Manager Mircea Lucescu remains optimistic about Shakhtar Donetsk's chances of reaching the UEFA Europa League final at the expense of Sevilla after a 2-2 draw in Lviv.
"The score corresponds to today’s game. We had a significant advantage in the first half, putting the opponents under great pressure, creating numerous scoring chances and carrying out counterattacks. But, unfortunately, we lacked that killer pass. The first half could have ended even in 4-1, we were more focused in the final attacking phase. In the second half, Sevilla played better, especially in its opening stages. Unfortunately, we got flat physically and started making defensive errors, especially at left back. This gave confidence to the opponents. We wrongly fulfilled our counterattacks. They say that Shakhtar are an experienced team... But let's not forget that Sevilla is involved in a different league, often playing against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico. While many of our players just start performing in the first team. Those are Kovalenko, Malyshev, Ferreyra – the players who appear at this level not that often."
- Why didn’t you make substitutions in the course of the game? You made them only in stoppage time. Why is that?
- In fact, we needed substitutions in midfield. In the middle third, Sevilla felt more confident and more powerful. While many of our players got injured. For example, the same Dentinho. I would have fielded him, but didn’t do it due to his injury. And fielding players just for the sake of fielding them, for the sake of some formal act, made no sense. If it could produce a result and influence the course of the game, I would have certainly done it.
- What moments of the match were the most stressful for you?
- I have already given you an extensive comment. And if you were attentive, I have answered your question.
- Shakhtar players looked upset while leaving the dressing room. Have the team perceived the draw as a defeat?
- I, frankly speaking, can understand my players. Because if we take it as a whole, our advantage was so significant, that no one could think that we wouldn’t bring the game to the end, allowing the opponents to equalise in the second half. Try to understand them as well. Probably, they are very upset. Now they must be sure that there is still a chance in the second leg. They must move quickly from the so-called bad aftertaste after the 2-2 score. I said that I believe in the team. We play away well in the current Europa League edition. Once again, the most important thing for me is that everyone is healthy. Looking back, I certainly did not expect that we would lose Fred. He was a very important person in midfield. Plus Dentinho is injured. He still has not recovered from the injury he got in the clash against Chornomorets. We will not be able to make him recover both for Sunday’s game and for the return leg against Sevilla.
- What’s your take on the refereeing. Was there a spot kick situation against Shakhtar?
- I cannot comment on the penalty case. It was far away, and now, without watching a replay... It seemed to me that on the whole the refereeing was good. There also was a moment when Marlos was asking for the books after an alleged handball by the opponent. But again, it is very difficult to analyse that episode. I think the refereeing corresponded to the level of tonight's game, so it’s difficult to make any major claims.