By Pavle Gognidze
FC Lokomotiv Moskva beat Macedonian champions FK Rabotnicki 2-0 to advance to the third qualifying round of UEFA Champions League despite some nervous moments in the second leg in Moscow.
Two goals in the last 15 minutes from Dmitri Sychev and Malkhaz Asatiani ultimately sealed victory for Vladimir Eshtrekov's side, but they were pushed all the way by a determined Rabotnicki team. Indeed, the visitors could have taken a shock lead from the penalty spot just after the interval but Pance Stojanov could not convert.
Lokomotiv's Vadim Evseev also missed a spot-kick after just six minutes, blasting his effort against the bar, as the hosts dominated from the kick-off, determined to better last week's disappointing 1-1 draw in Skopje. Stéphane Bikey Amougou and Evseev again saw further efforts come back off the woodwork in the first quarter, as the Russian title-holders threatened to overpower the visitors.
But when Lokomotiv did begin to find the target, they encountered goalkeeper Filip Madzovski in outstanding form. Sychev, Aleksandr Samedov and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov all saw the 21-year-old save goal-bound efforts before the interval. The home side were never going to be able to maintain that intensity and the pace slowed after the restart.
Bikey tested Madzovski after a strong run but it was not until Rabotnicki, in danger of elimination on the away-goals rule, began to press that gaps began to open at both ends. Goran Maznov had the visitors' first telling shot of the night on 66 minutes and four minutes later Cameroonian midfielder Armand Dubois Jankep was brought down by Asatiani in the penalty area.
Stojanov could not convert, however, and Lokomotiv immediately fought back. Within five minutes Bilyaletdinov feinted past a defender before laying off to Sychev, who slotted in to add to his late equaliser last week. On 85 minutes it was 2-0 when Khokhlov worked space on the right before teeing the ball up for the on-rushing Asatiani to blast home and seal the Russian side's passage to meet SK Rapid Wien in the next round.