Shakhtar boss Lucescu hails important victory

Shakhtar Donetsk hold a slender advantage over Rapid Vienna heading into the return leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off tie.

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu was relieved to leave Austria with a 1-0 victory after coming up against a physical Rapid Vienna outfit on Wednesday.

Marlos netted the all-important away goal a minute before the break as Shakhtar edged in front in the UEFA Champions League play-off tie.

Shakhtar's win did come at a cost, however, after midfielder Taras Stepanenko was hospitalised following a head clash with Srdan Grahovac approaching half-time.

Speaking to reporters post-match, Lucescu said: "Today we've seen a tough performance by both sides. It's evident that Rapid set up for that kind of game from the opening minutes, as there were numerous challenges in midfield.

"In general, I think the meeting proved spectacular, and the fans enjoyed it. We dominated the first half, created many chances and managed to score. We tried to shift the game to Rapid's half, knowing that they are usually very good at pressing their opponents. Therefore, in the first half we had the edge performance wise.

"For the second half, quite naturally, Rapid came on being more persistent. While we've had the Champions League match, in which we couldn't take any risks, knowing that we still have a home game ahead. It's been a very important victory over a good team."

When asked specifically about Stepanenko, Lucescu added: "We don't know yet, he is in the hospital. Our doctors stay with him, so we'll know it later.

"When he was taken to the hospital, he did not feel his hand. Probably, it was a tough collision."

Shakhtar - in the box seat to feature in the group stage for a sixth consecutive season - will defend their lead in their temporary home of Lviv on Tuesday.