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Dmytro Chygrynskiy returned to FC Shakhtar Donetsk from FC Barcelona in the summer with the goal of helping the Pitmen reach the UEFA Champions League knockout stage for the first time in their history.
Although the Ukraine defender missed the first half of the group stage with a hamstring injury sustained in late August, he helped Shakhtar take a step towards that goal on his first appearance in Group H against Arsenal FC on Matchday 4, heading the equaliser in a 2-1 comeback victory in Donetsk.
That success left Shakhtar, the 2009 UEFA Cup winners, level with Arsenal at the top of the group and raised the possibility of their securing qualification with a game to spare, should they win at FK Partizan on Tuesday and FC Braga fail to beat Arsenal in the section's other game. Chygrynskiy is determined that they fulfil at least their side of the bargain. "We are going [to Belgrade] ready for battle," he told UEFA.com. "We want to settle our place in the knockout stage as soon as possible."
Last December, Shakhtar lost 1-0 at Partizan in their last game of the UEFA Europa League group stage thanks to a Lamine Diarra goal. That was a match, however, where only pride was at stake given Shakhtar were already assured progress from their group and Partizan were eliminated. Chygrynskiy said it would be different this time with the Ukrainian side seeking to progress for the first time after five failed attempts. "We need to win on Tuesday. With the target we've got, there will be no problem with motivation.
"We understand that there are no easy games in the Champions League," added the 24-year-old. "The very name of the tournament is a source of motivation. Obviously, Partizan want to give their supporters something to cheer. It was a very tough match against them on Matchday 1. They proved their quality."
Partizan went down 1-0 in Donetsk to a 71st-minute Darijo Srna free-kick and are still seeking their first points in the section, having already been consigned to the wooden spoon. Chygrynskiy continued: "There are no doubts that they will do their best, but we have prepared seriously for this game and I think that our motivation is bigger. For years Shakhtar have been trying to get through the Champions League group stage and now this goal is very close."
Perhaps because the target is so close, Chygrynskiy declines to discuss Shakhtar's prospects should they advance. His coach, Mircea Lucescu, has repeated several times that "nothing is clear" in Group H and so Chygrynskiy refuses to answer how far they might go. "I think it's too early to discuss this matter. We still have a match to win."
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