Captain Darijo Srna said "I think – no, I know – that we're favourites to win this competition" as UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk won 4-1 at Club Brugge KV in UEFA Europa League Group J.
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Rarely one to speak in measured tones, FC Shakhtar Donetsk captain Darijo Srna happily appointed his team as favourites to win the first edition of the UEFA Europa League after the UEFA Cup holders opened their Group J campaign with a 4-1 win at Club Brugge KV.
Mircea Lucescu's side were superior to their valiant hosts in just about every department and were 3-0 up with just 35 minutes gone, Srna adding the third himself from a free-kick following goals from Olexiy Gai and Willian. Karel Geraerts briefly revived belief among the Jan Breydel Stadium faithful shortly after the hour mark, but another free-kick, this time from substitute Konstyantyn Kravchenko, sealed the outcome with 15 minutes remaining.
"We knew before the game that we're better than them," Srna told uefa.com. "We're the UEFA Cup holders, we came here to play football, provide a demonstration and to win this game, which was the most important thing because we want to finish first in the group. We played open football with good technique and I think we deserved these three points.
"I think – no, I know – that we're favourites to win this competition this year," he added, explaining that beating Werder Bremen 2-1 in the final UEFA Cup showpiece in Istanbul four months ago has given Shakhtar the belief that they can overcome anyone on the continent. "We came here with two important players missing: Ilsinho is injured and [Dmytro] Chygrynskiy's gone to Barcelona, but still have a lot of confidence. For example, look at [Yaroslav] Rakitskiy: he came in at only 20 years of age, playing as a central defender and this was the first time he's played in Europe. He'd only played maybe two or three times before."
In fact, as impressive as the Pitmen were, Srna feels they ought to have racked up a higher scoreline. "We didn't always concentrate on our final pass," said the Croatian right-back. "If we'd concentrated more on our final pass today I think we could have scored more goals." As for his own strike, a set-piece in a central position that left Club Brugge goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger rooted to the ground, the free-kick specialist was happy to reveal his secret. "I put one of our players on the end of the wall on purpose so that the goalkeeper couldn't see," he said. "When I shot, he couldn't get near it and I scored."