Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu was not getting carried away by his team's 3-2 triumph at Roma on Wednesday. The Ukrainians, playing in their first ever Round of 16 UEFA Champions League tie, took a big step towards the quarter-finals of the competition.
"Many people don't believe it, but we are a good team," Lucescu said. "We have played a great game and used our speed and our qualities to make life difficult for Roma. We have very good individual players and we took advantage of Roma's mistakes.
"But I believe the qualification is still open. We have to play in three weeks' time and I think Roma can win anywhere. I truly believe that Roma will come to Donetsk and play a different game."
Shakhtar, who have been on their domestic winter break since November, came from a goal down to stun Roma with three goals in 13 minutes to take a 3-1 half-time lead. Roma reduced the deficit on the hour mark but Shakhtar held on for victory at the Stadio Olimpico. "Roma were a different team in the second half," Lucescu said. "I thought they were excellent so I don't understand why their fans booed them."
Roma have a major hurdle to clear in the return leg on 8 March as Shakhtar have won all of their games at the Donbass Arena this season.
Despite the loss, Roma coach Claudio Ranieri was pleased with his team's performance tonight. "I'm happy with the game we have played," he said. "We were condemned by certain episodes. We could have lost our cool after being 3-1 down but we played a great second half and even if we didn't find the equaliser, we reduced the deficit. People think Shakhtar are a small team but this is a side that finished first in its group, a team that beat Arsenal."
Tonight's loss was Roma's third straight defeat following their slips to Napoli and Inter Milan in Serie A. The Italians have struggled defensively, giving away ten goals in their last three games. "I told my team before this game that we have to play like we did last year," Ranieri said. "We have to do our best. We have given away many goals but we are playing a different style of football. This is going to be a difficult year but we are not giving up.
"Considering all the pressure we have had this week, we have played a good game. This gives me optimism. We have to continue to work hard in order to turn around this difficult situation. There is no reason why we cannot turn the tie around and win at Donetsk."