“I have to take my hat off to my players,” coach Marino Pušič did not hide his admiration.
The praise is certainly in order, Shakhtar did not allow a single shot on goal in the first half of the famous Barcelona and took the lead in the 40th minute after Danylo Sikan, who excellently pounced on Giorgi Gocholeishvili’s cross.
“We like to attack, but the most important thing is the organization of the game. As I always say, you can only attack if you can defend. We cannot afford to concede cheap goals, we would have no chance of winning. We worked on that and the players fulfilled it to the letter. I’m really happy for that,” Pušič described.
Barcelona, led by the star Robert Lewandowski, took action in the second half, but simply did not succeed. Out of eleven attempts, she hit the space between the three posts only once and was unable to reverse the result.
“It’s a great feeling, the whole team has been doing well so far. I would especially like to thank all the fans for their support,” midfielder Heorhij Sudakov praised the fans. “Last time we showed that we can play with quality teams and now we have confirmed that we can beat them.”
Danylo Sikan (centre) heads home to give Shakhtar the lead over Barcelona.
“The team did everything perfectly, the players didn’t let anything go. This is exactly what I want to see: courage and quality on and off the ball,” Pušič gushed.
Although a win over the favorite is already extremely valuable for Shakhtar, its value can easily increase even more. Coach Pušič’s men are in third place and lose only three points to Barcelona and Porto in the Group H table. In addition, next time they play a newcomer from Antwerp, who has lost every time so far. At least second place suddenly doesn’t sound so unrealistic.
“We’re taking it one step at a time and trying to stay humble. At the weekend, we have an important match in the domestic competition. Now we can celebrate, but the very next day we will focus on preparing for it,” Pušič calmed the passions.
Barcelona, who may still be fired up from the recent 1:3 loss in El Clásico, must prepare properly for the next match.
“I’m angry, we didn’t play well at all and we couldn’t react to the opponent’s style. We have to recover from this and improve. We didn’t imagine it like this at all, it’s an unnecessary complication,” coach Xavi did not hide his disappointment.
In the event of a win, the Catalans could secure their participation in the round of 16 in advance. Instead of calm in the last two rounds, they may still have to work harder, as they play the erratic Porto next time.
“The Champions League requires the best performance, which we failed to show this time. We are not attacking well and we are not focused enough. Now the players must not lose their self-confidence, on the contrary, they must show up and help the team,” cheered Xavi.
Robert Lewandowski during Barcelona’s match with Shakhtar.
“Nothing changes for us, we definitely want to win the remaining matches,” stopper Andreas Christensen was clear.
Shakhtar will also be closely watching the result of their next match. If Barcelona can handle Porto and the Ukrainian team does not hesitate against Antwerp, they will face a direct fight for promotion in Portugal.