Dynamo Kiev coach Serhiy Rebrov admitted his players were affected by the pressure after the club reached the Champions League knockout round for the first time in 16 years.
Maccabi Tel Aviv restricted the hosts to a 1-0 win at an almost silent Olimpiyskiy Stadium, where supporters were kept out following racist behaviour during Dynamo’s game against Chelsea last month.
Rebrov, who was part of the last Dynamo side to get beyond the group stage in 1999/2000, cited psychological reasons for his side’s muted performance.
“We have not been to the play-offs of the Champions League for 16 years,” he said.
“The players did not show their quality, and were affected by the excitement. They tried to hide it, but it was clear from their actions that we were shackled.
“This is psychology – the heat of the importance of the game. It paralysed the players.”
Rebrov singled out goalscorer Denys Garmash for praise, following the midfielder’s opportunist first-half strike that proved to be the difference between the two sides on the night.
“Denys is always running in the penalty area. His desire to score can be seen in every moment, and he is aggressive,” the 41-year-old said.
“He has a strong character. He is always a mountain for the team, but sometimes flirts or plays defensively.
“When he plays on the attack, for him there are no complaints.”