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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spartak Wins on Tikhonov Hat Trick




TILBURG, Netherlands -- Captain Andrei Tikhonov notched a hat trick, including two penalties, as Spartak Moscow beat Willem II Tilburg 3-1 in its opening Champions League Group G match Wednesday.


But the Dutch side was left to rue two clumsy challenges and some poor finishing that spoiled its debut in Europe's premier competition.


A mistimed tackle and a crude barge proved the difference on a rain-drenched night in Tilburg, near the Belgian border, as Willem II showed attacking promise and coped with most of Spartak's counters. This was only its seventh-ever European game, whereas Spartak was playing its 151st.


"They're very good with their playing style, but we have the experience," said Spartak's deputy coach Vyateslav Grozny.


The breakthrough came in the 27th minute when Willem II's Czech Tomas Galasek tripped Egor Titov as he entered the Dutch penalty area, allowing Tikhonov to score from the spot.


The goal spurred Spartak into action, especially out wide, and in the 37th minute a cross from the right found an unmarked Tikhonov, who fooled Tilburg's keeper Kris Mampaey before slotting in his second from a tight angle.


Tikhonov made it 3-0 in the 52nd minute with his second penalty after Ukrainian Dmitry Parfyonov had been bundled over.


Willem II had the best of the closing phase as the Muscovites closed ranks.


Ousmane Sanou of Burkina Faso should have done better than to shoot over when well-placed, but the visitors ran out reasonably comfortable winners.


With Sparta Prague and Girondins Bordeaux drawing 0-0, the Russians have already gained the early advantage in Group G.


Spartak's players wore black armbands as a mark of respect for those who died in the recent wave of bombings in the Russian capital.


"We wanted to show with this that we take a strong stance against this terrorism," said Grozny.