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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Lucescu aiming higher after UEFA glory

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu quickly switched his focus to the biggest prize in European club football after seeing his side become the last ever winners of the UEFA Cup.

Shakhtar defeated Werder Bremen 2-1 in the final in Istanbul but needed extra time to overcome their well-drilled German opponents.

The final - the last to be played before the competition is rebranded as the Europa League next season - finished all square on 90 minutes after Naldo had equalised Luiz Adriano's opener for Shakhtar.

Jadson's winner in extra time secured the spoils for Lucescu's team, who became the first Ukrainian side to win a European trophy.

Shakhtar are fast emerging as a side to be reckoned with at European level, and Lucescu believes last night's triumph is just the beginning.

"This first trophy is fantastic,'' he said. "There is a great feeling of satisfaction and I am extremely happy. But we want other things. We want to do something in the Champions League.

"This will give us the confidence to reach the quarter-finals or the semi-finals of the Champions League.''

He added: "My aim is to continue to build this team, to make it better than it is today. I have this passion and want to give my players this conviction. The Champions League will be the aim for eastern European countries.

"Now I think eastern European countries have the chance to win the Champions League and we will try to do it.''

Shakhtar's victory, like so many others in Europe this season, was made in Brazil, with their formidable quintet of Willian, Fernandinho, Ilsinho, Adriano and Jadson at the heart of much that was good in their play.

"I am very happy for my Brazilian players,'' Lucescu added. "Now people will know them and maybe [Brazil coach] Dunga as well.

"My philosophy is to build teams, to educate players, to try to bring through young players. It's a big passion and I will do it for as long as I can.''

Shakhtar went ahead on 25 minutes when Adriano seized on a through-ball that had wrong-footed the Bremen defence and lifted a sumptuous chip over the onrushing Tim Wiese.

Bremen hit back in thunderous fashion through their own Brazilian, Naldo stepping up in the 35th minute to hammer a free-kick at Andrei Pyatov with such ferocity that the goalkeeper could only help it on its way into the net.

While both sides had chances to win the match, it fell to Jadson to make it a trio of Brazilian scorers when his weak effort trickled past Wiese in the 97th minute to give Shakhtar the trophy.

Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf admitted after the match that his side had failed to play to their potential over the 120 minutes.

"Altogether we weren't able to attack as much as usual,'' he said. "We knew we couldn't give them space because they are very fast, so we tried to play tight and turn on the break, but it didn't work that way.

"We weren't able to attack and use the space that well. Our ball control was not as good as usual, particularly in midfield, and we weren't able to target the opposition goal. We had some chances, but didn't make the most of them.

"We will have to learn from that in the future.''

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