Roy Hodgson said guiding his Fulham FC team into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 at the expense of FC Shakhtar Donetsk ranks as one of the best achievements in his long, distinguished career.
Fulham, who were on the back foot for long periods in Ukraine, stunned last season's UEFA Cup winners when Brede Hangeland headed the Londoners ahead in the first half. Although Shakhtar levelled through Jadson, Fulham showed bundles of resilience in holding off a concerted onslaught from Mircea Lucescu's charges, leaving Hodgson savouring arguably the most famous result in the club's recent history.
"We put in an enormous amount of work, trained a lot and the result shows it wasn't in vain," said the 62-year-old former FC Internazionale Milano coach, who can now look forward to a tie with Juventus. "I wouldn't rule out that at the end of my coaching days I will name this match as the best in my career."
Hodgson also paid tribute to the defensive work his players got through but still found time to pay tribute to Shakhtar, labelling the Ukrainian team's passing game as "as good as I've seen in my 35-year career". "We did marvellously well to score and then keep them at bay like we did; they are one of the best teams in Europe," added Hodgson, who lost Danny Murphy to a 94th-minute red card and Bobby Zamora to an Achilles injury.
Lucescu, meanwhile, was left to reflect on what might have been, pointing to the statistics as evidence that the Pitmen were the dominant team on the night. "It's hard to comment on a match with such obvious statistics," he said. "We won 16 corners, our opponents none. We had 24 shots on goal, our visitors only four. When you face such a solid team you can pay for every mistake. We warned the players about the danger their tall players can cause and were proved right."
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