Shakhtar: Beating Fulham good for football

BERNE - Holders Shakhtar Donetsk believe it will be good for football if they beat Fulham on Thursday 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 who each won it three times in its previous incarnation as the UEFA Cup.

The tournament is a consolation prize after Juve and Liverpool finished third in their Champions League groups.

Juve won their first leg 2-1 at Ajax Amsterdam although they cannot be over-confident following the 4-1 home defeat by Bayern Munich which knocked them out of the Champions League in December.

Five-times European Cup winners Liverpool are in a trickier position as they take a slender 1-0 lead to Romania for their second leg against Unirea Urziceni.

Spain's four teams all face the threat of elimination, three of them having drawn at home last week.

Villarreal visit Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg, having been held 2-2, while Athletic Bilbao visit Anderlecht and Atletico Madrid make the long haul to Turkey's Galatasaray after 1-1 stalemates.

Valencia, beaten 1-0 at Club Bruges, may rue their failure to score an away goal when they host the Belgians.

The Spaniards are without David Silva, who was sent off in the first leg.