BERLIN (AFP) – Shakhtar Donetsk’s surprise 1-0 Champions League win against Barcelona was hailed by coach Marino Pusic as “only the beginning” for the club and an important step forward for football in beleaguered Ukraine.
The Ukrainian side have not been able to play at their Donbass Arena in Donetsk since 2014.
But playing Tuesday’s match hundreds of miles away in the German city of Hamburg because of the war at home did not prevent Danylo Sikan securing a famous victory over the five-time European winners with a dipping header in the 40th minute.
Barcelona still lead Group H ahead of second-placed Porto, who beat Royal Antwerp 2-0, but Shakhtar play the Belgians on November 28 – they already beat them 3-2 in October – and will be confident of another victory that would give them a genuine chance of reaching the knockout round.
“It is very sweet. But it is sweet not only for me. Of course, I am very glad, but I am tremendously proud of my players and all people at the club who have worked very hard to help me achieve what we achieved tonight,” Pusic, a Croat, said.
“Unfortunately, because of the situation in the country, you can call this a home game but for us it is a tremendous part – the travelling, and sometimes we need one or two days extra to recover of course,” he added.
“It is not so easy… It is important also for Ukrainian football to represent the country in Europe like we did tonight.”