Igor Jovicevic was visibly touched. The coach of Shakhtar Donetsk had a lump in his throat during an interview after his team’s 4-1 victory in the Champions League at RasenballSport Leipzig. “I’m the happiest coach in the whole world. These are emotions that we will never forget in our lives,” said Jovicevic.

It was Donetsk’s first European Cup game since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February. The Croatian justified the very strong performance of his team with the war situation in Ukraine: “If you play with your heart for a whole country, then you just fly over the pitch. The players sit in the dressing room and are shocked at what they have achieved.”

The win came as a surprise for several reasons. Shakhtar, homeless since the war and playing their games in Warsaw, has a completely new team. It’s young and inexperienced. The numerous Brazilians who shaped Shakhtar’s game for years have left the club because of the war. “Some players have experience. For others, it’s the chance they’ve been waiting for,” said Jovicevic before the game in Leipzig, emphasizing the importance of the encounter: “It’s very important for our compatriots that we fight on the pitch like they do at home Front.”

Shakhtar fought passionately, accepted every duel and hardly allowed any chances against pomad Leipzig. They also benefited from a catastrophic mistake by Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulasci. Everything was right for Shakhtar that evening. The team celebrated the victory in the stadium with the 700 fans in the away block.

Captain Taras Stepanenko received reactions from home in the dressing room right after the final whistle. “I got a lot of messages from Ukraine, from my friends. I also received congratulations from soldiers at the front. Victory is important for our country, for our army. Victories like this are crucial for our people, Stepanenko said.