Shakhtar Donetsk coach Igor Jovicevic praised his side’s display and courage after it held Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw in the Champions League on Tuesday, saying it fought to make the Ukrainian people proud.
A last-gasp header by Real defender Antonio Rudiger rescued a 1-1 draw for Carlo Ancelotti’s men and secured its place in the knockout stage, after the Ukrainian side had taken the lead one minute into the second half.
“I’m proud that my team showed personality, what they are made of,” Jovicevic told a news conference.
“In these difficult times, which we’ve been going through in the last 10 days especially, to go out on the pitch today and show that level of football... it is to take your hats off.”
Jovicevic, who took over as coach of Shakhtar in July, said the game was its best in these past three months.
“(Back then), nobody gave us a dime. ‘Without Brazilians, how we are going to do it? We are going to be the Cinderella of the group, the Cinderella of the entire tournament’, we heard,” he said.
“And in the end ... to play like this against Real Madrid, and to be sad in the dressing room afterwards... We have the feeling that we lost two points and it’s something to be proud of.
“We fought for the Ukrainian people, so that they could feel identified and proud of us, and I’m sure they are.”
Jovicevic, who started his senior career as a player in Real’s reserve team back in 1991, hailed his side for the way they approached its more experienced rivals.
“With the ball, we had things clear,” he added. “We played a daring football, with courage and what a pity about (Lassina) Traore, not being able to make it 2-0 and finish the game with a victory.”
The Burkina Faso international was inches away from doubling Shakhtar’s lead in the 65th minute but his shot from inside the six-yard box bounced off the bar.
“I can’t be very happy because when you get a goal in the last seconds... it touches you a little bit. Tomorrow, with a point, the team will realise what they did today,” Jovicevic said.
“The football sometimes gives you (things), sometimes it takes away from you. And it’s a possibility that they can score in the last second, just as much as you can score in the first minute.
“But I think we have a bright future ahead.”
Antonio Rudiger’s goal, at 94 minutes and 31 seconds, was the latest goal scored by a Real Madrid player to prevent a defeat in Champions League history.
The Germany defender beat winger Pedro Leon’s goal in 2010 at the San Siro, scored at 93 minutes 16 seconds, that levelled the game at 2-2.
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