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Barcelona victory ‘important for Ukrainian football’, says Shakhtar’s Pusic

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Shakhtar Donetsk coach Marino Pusic said his side’s shock 1-0 UEFA Champions League victory over Barcelona in Hamburg on Tuesday was “important for Ukrainian football”.

Shakhtar has played home games away from its Donbas Arena in Donetsk, now occupied by Russia, since 2014.

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But playing the match hundreds of miles away in Germany did not prevent Danylo Sikan from securing a famous victory over Barcelona with his dipping header in the 40th minute.

“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,” said Pusic.

“It is not so easy… It is important also for Ukrainian football to represent the country in Europe like we did tonight.”

Barcelona still lead Group H ahead of second-placed Porto, which beat Royal Antwerp 2-0, on head-to-head record, but missed the chance to wrap up qualification for the last 16 with two games to spare.

“After two years without qualifying for the last 16, today is a missed opportunity,” said Barca coach Xavi Hernandez.

Shakhtar, on six points, gave its knock-out stage hopes a boost, but also put itself in pole position to at least finish third ahead of Antwerp and move into the Europa League.

“If we achieve that (last 16), it would be fantastic. If not then to stay in Europe would also be a great achievement, amazing achievement even, for this club under those circumstances,” added Pusic.

After failing to progress from the group stage for two seasons running, Barcelona had won its first three matches this term.

“We do things step by step and we stay humble,” said Pusic, who was proud of his team’s defensive effort.

“We like to attack and we had several good moments tonight, but game organisation comes first. If you concede easily at this level there is not a high chance you will win.”

Barcelona midfielder Oriol Romeu said his team had to look in the mirror after their disappointing display.

“Every defeat is a warning,” he told Movistar.

“We have to be self-critical and see what we did wrong, to correct it quickly.”



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