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24 February 2024

Donetsk plan more Europa fun

By Reuters

Holders Shakhtar Donetsk believe it will be good for soccer if they beat Fulham tomorrow to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa League.

"Our team deserves to play in the final phase of any tournament it takes part in because we show a spectacular game, which is interesting for everyone," said Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu.

"We will have to find ways to break them down as well as to reach the penalty area... I hope the refereeing in Donetsk will help the spectacular and skilful football but not the physical one."

The Ukrainians were beaten 2-1 by their Premier League opponents in the first leg in London last week.

Lucescu, who has six Brazilians in his squad, said last week's tie was between contrasting teams.

"It was a duel between two completely different styles of playing," said the Donetsk coach. "Fulham were based on their physical strength and long passes.

"We construct our game with technique and fast dribbling. In my opinion it all resulted in a spectacular and exciting match for the fans."

Donetsk lived up to Lucescu's billing in the first half of the group phase, scoring four goals in each of their first three games. However, they failed to win or score a goal in their last two matches in the section. The Europa League, widely regarded as the poor relation of the Champions League, is the last realistic chance of a trophy this year for former European champions Juventus and Liverpool.

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