Kroos full of respect for Shakhtar players amid Ukraine conflict

By Sports Desk October 11, 2022

Toni Kroos has hailed the performance of the Shakhtar Donetsk squad following their 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The Ukrainian side came agonisingly close to a remarkable victory against the European champions but Antonio Rudiger's last-gasp header ensured honours would be even, clinching Madrid's spot in the knockout stages.

Shakhtar's valiant display came on the back of more difficult days for Ukraine, with Russia resuming missile strikes across the country, including upon the capital Kyiv, in a further escalation of the conflict.

Kroos was left impressed by the spirit of Shakhtar's squad, praising them for their efforts this season as they play out their campaign in their adopted home of Warsaw.

"In general, the last couple of months, it's been a very difficult situation to be playing football at this time," he told CBS Sports.

"For that, hats off to them. How they play, how they fight, how they are able to concentrate on the less important thing called football, a lot of respect for that.

"We're here to play a Champions League game but, knowing what happened, it affects everybody, of course more the Ukrainian players.

"But I think it's a good thing for them to go out here, forget a bit the things that happened, to just play football, to play together, to enjoy it and I think that is what they did and they had a great game today."

Madrid's passive display came ahead of El Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday, with Carlo Ancelotti resting key players, but Lucas Vazquez denied the side were focusing on that fixture.

"Not at all. We knew the importance of this match, which was an important day for the qualification to the round of 16. We're going to make this point in the next game," he told Movistar.

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