APOEL FC qualified for the UEFA Champions League round of 16 as Group G winners, but only because FC Porto failed to beat FC Zenit St Petersburg at home, with a 2-0 loss to FC Shakhtar Donetsk in front of a crowd of 22,537 – a Cypriot record in UEFA club competition – representing a disappointing end to a splendid autumn campaign for the Nicosia side.
Urko Pardo, APOEL goalkeeper
We knew Shakhtar were a top team and they played a fantastic game while we lost our concentration. We didn't lack motivation; we knew that if we lost today and [Porto] won, we would finish second in the group. For me, this was the most important game. We lost, so we are lucky to finish top of the group.
[On saving Luiz Adriano's first-half penalty] We have a great goalkeeping coach. We spoke to him about how their taker might hit his penalty, where he would aim for, and it worked.
Esteban Solari, APOEL striker
Shakhtar played a very good game, with good control of the ball; they showed intensity, and in the first half they created chances. At the end we worked hard but we couldn't impose our game and that was one of the key factors.
I don't think one or two players can change the performance of a team. When the team doesn't work it's because all the players aren't playing well.
We didn't have the motivation, the intensity. Shakhtar deserved the win and we have to look at our attitude. We did a good job in qualification.
Gustavo Manduca, APOEL midfielder
We expected Shakhtar to play the way they did. They are the best team in this group, in my opinion. They have very good players; it's very difficult to get the ball off them, and tonight they played much better than us.
We have finished top of the group, though, and we are proud and happy about this.
We tried to push in the second half, make more heat and look for the goal, but they scored and continued to play well as well as they did in the first half. We didn't manage to play well with the ball. The coach tried to help us but we didn't do enough.
Darijo Srna, Shakhtar midfielder
Firstly, I would like to congratulate APOEL for reaching the next stage. Unfortunately, we finished bottom of the table.
We showed in many games that we were the best team in the group, but the final result does not reflect that.
Today, we gave a good performance, even though we were the away team. We showed character and our best qualities because we were playing for our fans as well as the honour of the club. Unfortunately, we have had many setbacks since our first game against Porto. We must draw the correct conclusions from all this.
Vyacheslav Shevchuk, Shakhtar defender
The game panned out well for us primarily because we played aggressively in the final third. In previous games we were not as aggressive in attack. There is not much we can do about our elimination. We must prepare for further challenges.
Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Shakhtar defender
In the first half we failed to convert a penalty; had we put it away, we would have won by a larger margin. Either way, we won. The only thing we were lacking throughout the group stage was luck. At least today, we managed to score twice.
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