FC Lokomotiv Moskva were imperious in recording a historic 3-0 UEFA Champions League victory against Internazionale FC in Group B. An early strike from Dmitri Loskov was followed by second-half goals from Mikheil Ashvetia and Dmitri Khokhlov to give Yuri Semin's side maximum points at the Lokomotiv stadium.
The build-up to the game was overshadowed by the dismissal of Héctor Cúper as Inter coach. With Alberto Zaccheroni set to take over after tonight's game, youth coach Corrado Verdelli was put in temporary charge. Verdelli certainly put his personal stamp on the team, making five changes to the side which drew 2-2 with Brescia Calcio on Saturday. Jérémie Bréchet, Alvaro Recoba, Julio Cruz, Marco Materazzi and Matias Almeyda all came into the starting line-up.
Despite this bold move, the new coach saw his side get off to the worst possible start in an evening that would go from bad to worse. No sooner had Recoba sent in the first shot of the game, than Lokomtiv had sprinted upfield to score the opening goal. Some neat work by Maksim Buznikin set up the overlapping full-back Vadim Evseev for a cross. He in turn picked out Loskov at the near post, where the captain finished adeptly into the roof of the net.
End to end
Inter did their best to respond, but a quick equaliser eluded them. With the game flowing from end to end, it was Lokomtiv who almost struck a second - an unmarked Loskov shooting straight at Francesco Toldo from the edge of the area.
Recoba kept Lokomotiv goalkeeper Sergei I. Ovchinnikov on his toes with some long-range shots but it was not until 27 minutes had passed that the visitors had a clear sight of goal. Christian Vieri picked up the ball and sprinted into the box, but his shot – with his weaker right foot – was saved by Ovchinnikov.
Two minutes later Javier Zanetti had an even better opportunity. The Inter captain dispossessed Khokhlov and raced clear, but dwelt on the ball too long and ended up driving narrowly over. Khokhlov could have scored just before the break, but Lokomotiv went in at half-time leading 1-0. Semin then toughened his team up in anticipation of an Inter backlash by replacing Buznikin with Oleg Pachinine.
However, it was Lokomotiv who came out flying. On 50 minutes Khokhlov fed the over-lapping Evseev on the right. In an echo of the first goal, the full-back squared the ball to Loskov at the near post, but the captain cleverly dummied, leaving Georgian striker Ashvetia with an open goal.
Inter seemed stunned and - aside from a long-range Recoba effort - they could not trouble Ovchinnikov. Despite dominating possession, Inter still looked vulnerable, and on 57 minutes the hosts got their third. The talented young forward Marat Izmailov was brought down in the inside-right channel, and Loskov stepped up to take the free-kick. Curling it in right footed, he picked out the soaring Khokhlov, who thumped a header over Toldo and into the top corner.
The victory puts Lokomotiv back into contention in Group B. After losing to FC Dynamo Kyiv and drawing with Arsenal FC, the Moscow club needed all three points from this game. Inter remain on six points, but will need to improve on tonight's performance if they want to reach the knockout stage.