Lokomotiv regroup for Akhmat after Europa League flop


Moscow (AFP) – Russian league leaders Lokomotiv Moscow must switch their focus back to domestic league action on Sunday when they face Akhmat Grozny  days after crashing out of the Europa League.

The railway-backed side, who lost 5-1 at home to Atletico Madrid on Thursday to crash out of the Europa League 8-1 on aggregate, top the domestic league, eight points clear of city rivals Spartak and CSKA with eight matches to go.

Lokomotiv manager Yuri Semin blamed his team’s lack of discipline for a disastrous home result.

“It was too adventurous to play such football against Atletico,” Lokomotiv official site quoted Semin as saying.

“Today we played much better in attack than in defence giving Atletico too much space and they capitalized on our mistakes. They’ve presented us a perfect masterclass.

“After the match I told my men that they’ve acted against Atletico exactly like they should not have played. But I don’t have any reproaches to my men. The opponents just have been stronger.”

Semin added that he Lokomotiv could now concentrate on the league.

“Now, when we don’t need to play twice a week any more, I think, we have enough power and skillful players to carry our lead in the Russian league through,” he said.

Reigning champions Spartak, who edged bottom-placed SKA Khabarovsk in their previous Premier League match, will have to pass another stern test on Saturday, when they visit Rubin Kazan.

Spartak manager Massimo Carrera said he was pleased with his team’s performance against SKA even though they managed to score only once adding he expected the upcoming match  would also be tough.

“It’s extremely hard to play against the teams that sit in defence throughout the match,” Spartak official site quoted Carrera as saying. “But my men gave everything they had for that win, which is very important for us.

“The match at Kazan will unlikely be easier for us. Rubin are on the rise after winning their previous match at Tosno and I expect they would like to show their best on their home turf. But we have no other choice but to win if we want to retain our title.”

Meanwhile, CSKA Moscow, who won 3-2 at Lyon on Thursday to extend their Europa League campaign,  take on lowly Amkar Perm on Sunday.

“We have been magnificent,” CSKA press service quoted head coach Viktor Goncharenko as saying. “We’ve deservedly booked our passage to the (Europa League) quarter-finals.

“Now we need to focus on our next domestic league match. We’re still in the title race and three places in the next season’s Champions League are at stake. We need to keep up momentum for our Sunday’s clash.”

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

SKA Khabarovsk v Ural Yekaterinburg (0800), Arsenal Tula v Rostov (1100), Krasnodar v Ufa (1330), Anzhi Makhachkala v Tosno (1600), Rubin Kazan v Spartak Moscow (1600)

Sunday

Lokomotiv Moscow v Akhmat Grozny (1630), CSKA Moscow v Amkar Perm (1630), Zenit St Petersburg v Dynamo Moscow (1630)

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