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Coach Mircea Lucescu maintains that he has "a squad capable of solving even the most difficult problems" as FC Shakhtar Donetsk head into their UEFA Cup decider against PFC CSKA Moskva a goal and one key defender down.
Beaten 1-0 in the Round of 16 first leg in Moscow, Shakhtar's task at the RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium has been made tougher by the suspension of first-choice centre-back Dmytro Chygrynskiy, though the Ukrainian champions' Romanian boss is not about to give in to self-pity. "Despite all our problems and Chygrynskiy's suspension, Shakhtar have a squad capable of solving even the most difficult problems," he said.
Lucescu has overturned a 1-0 deficit to win a European tie as recently as August 2007, when Shakhtar defeated FC Salzburg 3-1 at home to settle a UEFA Champions League third qualifying round encounter. A 3-0 victory over fellow UEFA Cup contenders FC Metalist Kharkiv last weekend is further cause for confidence ahead of this second bout between the one-time Soviet Supreme League rivals.
"In Kharkov, we were head and shoulders above Metalist and deserved to win," said Lucescu after the success which took them up to second place in the Premier League, albeit 12 points behind leaders FC Dynamo Kyiv. "We got a great morale boost before the CSKA game, but they did too by winning 3-0 [at FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast] on the first day of the Russian season."
Defender Răzvan Raţ did not get the chance to atone for the penalty he conceded which enabled Vágner Love to give CSKA the lead in Moscow, as he was rested against Metalist. "I was pretty down after the CSKA match, but everyone makes mistakes and now my worries are behind me," said Raţ. "We must push ourselves to the limit. Me and the team are ready for that. We will make things tough for CSKA but it won't be easy for us either."
CSKA coach Zico will be without suspended winger Yuri Zhirkov and injured holding midfielder Elvir Rahimić, but Evgeni Aldonin is available. The UEFA Cup's top scorer Vágner Love should be sharp after being rested against Saturn, while midfielder Miloš Krasić was used sparingly. "Vágner picked up a minor knock in the Russian Super Cup so I gave him an opportunity to rest and recuperate so he would be at his best against Shakhtar," explained Zico. "Krasić played 15 minutes because I wanted him to rest too and not lose momentum. He should be 100 per cent ready for Shakhtar."
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