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Fábio Rochemback says Sporting Clube de Portugal will not be too preoccupied by their lean spell in front of goal as they go for the win that would all but guarantee a first-ever qualification for the knockout stage.
Sporting's Group C victory in Ukraine on Matchday 3 – their second in successive UEFA Champions League seasons after last term's triumph at FC Dynamo Kyiv – means they enter the return match against FC Shakhtar Donetsk with the chance of eliminating Mircea Lucescu's side. Their task promises to be far from easy, particularly considering they have scored only twice from open play, and three times in total, in their last five outings in the Portuguese Liga. Rochemback, however, believes his team's organisation makes them well-placed to snatch tight games – as the tie in Donetsk was, and the sequel now promises to be.
"We're doing a good job defensively, not just the defenders but all of us – we're defending as a team," the 26-year-old said. "If you don't concede goals, you don't lose." Sporting are unbeaten in four matches in all competitions since their 2-1 home defeat by FC Porto on 5 October, backing up Rochemback's theory, and their rearguard has been unbreached in that time. "I don't care if we win just 1-0, or by more," he said, "as long as we keep winning our games."
Repeat the feat
The seven-cap Brazilian international is in the sixth month of his second stay at the Estádio José Alvalade. He was part of the Sporting side that made it to the UEFA Cup final in 2004/05, before collecting a second runners-up medal with his next club Middlesbrough FC at the conclusion of the following campaign. The memories of those two journeys have left Rochemback eager for more European adventures at an even higher level. "It's really important," he said. "This can be a decisive game for us, because we should go through if we win this."
The one-time FC Barcelona prospect is wary, however, of the challenge facing his team on Tuesday, having seen enough of Shakhtar to know that Sporting still have a fight on their hands. "As everyone saw in the first game, they are a very tough outfit," he said. "We're expecting a difficult match, but we're confident and if we work as well as we normally do, we can manage to get the win we need."
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