FC Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu praised his new-look defence after a 1-0 win at AS Nancy-Lorraine earned the Ukrainian side a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup.
Lucescu has rebuilt his back four since Shakhtar were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League, but his new back line already appear comfortable together. With young Ukrainian internationals Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Olexandr Kucher paired in the centre, Darijo Srna on the right and Vyacheslav Shevchuk deputising for the injured Razvan Rat on the left, Nancy's lone striker Marc-Antoine Fortune rarely threatened.
"I would like to praise our defence which was extremely dependable," Lucescu said. "I think we deserved the victory because we created more chances. By and large, Nancy didn't have a single clear-cut opportunity. It was a very difficult match and to get through to the next round we had to work hard. It might not have been that entertaining, but it was a fight from start to finish. I think we dominated and controlled the ball more, especially in the second half."
Having drawn the home leg 1-1, Shakhtar were forced to take the initiative in France, yet it was not until the 71st minute that they found a way through, Fernandinho rounding off a neat passing move from just inside the area. It was a notable achievement for Lucescu's team who are still on their domestic winter break and are now the sole Eastern European club left in European competition.
"We created a lot of chances but we are not as clinical as we should be at the moment," Lucescu added. Shakhtar will have to improve that aspect of their game if they are to progress past holders Sevilla FC in the next round. Lucescu added: "In a game against a side like Sevilla, the important thing is to take your chances." However, they must get by without the banned Ciprian Marica, Mariusz Lewandowski and Kucher. Captain Anatoliy Tymoschuk will be available, though, after missing the Nancy trip through suspension, while Rat should be fit for the first leg early next month.
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