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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lokomotiv: Russia's Last Chance in Europe

Lokomotiv Moscow takes on mighty Benfica on Thursday night in a second round, second leg match which could be the last time Russian clubs play Europe this season.


After Spartak's elimination from the UEFA Cup on Tuesday, the railroad team are now the solo Russian representative in European club competition.


The Portuguese come to Moscow with a slim 1-0 lead after the first leg in Lisbon two weeks ago, where the home side had several good scoring chances but only made one goal by Joao Pintu.


"A 1-0 away defeat gives us a good chance in the return match," said Lokomotiv coach Yuri Semin. "But we'll have to find chances at the other end, at the same time as being wary of Benfica's dangerous forwards."


Unlike Spartak, which faced an enormous 3-0 deficit, Lokomotiv has a solid shot against Benfica. The weather should also provide an advantage for the Muscovites, with Portuguese players unaccustomed to the cold Moscow nights. According to the Russian daily Sport-Express, Benfica's officials were furious Tuesday night when Lokomotiv refused the visitors a chance to practice at its main pitch.


"We had a pre-agreement to practice at the main arena after Spartak's match," said Benfica coach Paulo Autuori.


Lokomotiv officials said that the main pitch needed repairs following the Spartak-Hamburg match.


Both clubs should have some key players back. Benfica's Brazilian international Donizeti returns as does Lokomotiv's Andrei Solomatin, who had his cheekbone smashed by Alania's Sergei Timofeyev a month ago.