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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lokomotiv Moves Top as Russia Prepares for U.S.




Lokomotiv Moscow, Spartak and Chernomorets Novorossiisk all maintained their unbeaten starts to the season in the Premier League action over the weekend.


Spartak Moscow's meeting with cross-town rival CSKA was marred by clashes between opposing fans before the game in front of 50,000 at Luzhniki stadium.


The rivalry between the two runs back to the early 1960s when Spartak and CSKA were the strongest sides in the Soviet Union's top division, and now their fans display a relationship that can at times be very unsavory.


The match itself was a great spectacle. A goal from Sergei Semak in the early stages was disallowed by the referee, who ruled that the CSKA forward had been in an offside position.


Spartak, which dominated the midfield throughout the game, looked more organized as a unit and dangerous on the attack.


Spartak twice hit CSKA's woodwork: A shot in the 10th minute from Dmitry Parfyonov hit the post, and then just after the interval Vasily Baranov's long-range pile driver rocked the crossbar.


With all these near misses, Spartak was bound to score a goal, and with time running out, Spartak's Maxim Buznikin, who had come on as a substitute in the second half, was brought down in CSKA's penalty area.


Spartak captain Andrei Tikhonov, who had failed to score from his two previous penalty attempts in league games, refused to tempt fate and offered the responsibility to Yegor Titov. The latter made no mistake from the spot kick, sending CSKA to defeat and ensuring it remained at the bottom of the table with a shoddy record after five games that reads no goals scored and seven conceded.


Lokomotiv's visit to Rotor Volgograd had the makings of a defeat for the Moscow side, which had lost its previous seven league games there. Loko, however, broke the hoodoo with ease, whitewashing Rotor 4-0.


Chernomorets Novorossiisk is becoming a dreadful jinx for the capital's clubs. Torpedo Moscow made the long journey back from the Black Sea coast with a 1-0 defeat to Chernomorets, which has already won previous games this season against CSKA and Dynamo Moscow 3-0 and 4-0 respectively.


National soccer coach Oleg Romantsev admitted Monday that his team had still not fully recovered after missing the European Championship finals, Reuters reported.


"I can say that we're still in a state of a shock after failing to beat Ukraine," Romantsev told news media ahead of Wednesday's friendly against the United States in Moscow.


Russia needed to win its final European qualifier against Ukraine last October in order to advance.


Russia was leading 1-0 with two minutes remaining when goalkeeper Alexander Filimonov accidentally punched the ball into his own goal after a looping free kick by Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko.


"That's why this [Wednesday's] game is so important to us, mainly for psychological reasons, because many of our players have yet to recover from all that stress in the Ukraine game," Romantsev said.


Romantsev said he was looking forward to playing the United States.


"They may not have top-caliber players like some European teams, but they have a very solid team with very few weaknesses," he said. "They are always tough to beat."


Romantsev has recalled Spartak keeper Alexander Filimonov, who has missed almost five months with a serious knee injury, for Wednesday's game.


Wednesday's international friendly between Russia and the United States kicks off at 7 p.m. at Dynamo Stadium, 36 Leningradsky Prospekt. Metro Dynamo. Tickets are available at the stadium and cost between 30 and 100 rubles.