By Eduard Nisenboim
A Dmitry Khomukha goal in added time gave Russian side FC Terek Grozny an important advantage in the first leg of their UEFA Cup second qualifying round tie against Lech Poznan in Moscow.
Superb solo run
Depleted by injuries, the home side looked to have settled for the draw before Musa Mazaev set off on a superb solo run in the first minute of injury time. After beating three defenders, he squared to Khomukha, whose cool finish evaded the flailing Waldemar Piatek to give the home side the narrowest of leads for the second leg on 26 August.
Making their European debut, Terek returned to the Lokomotiv stadium, scene of their Russian Cup final triumph last May. Cheered on by considerable backing in the capital, including over 500 fans from Grozny, the home side started brightly with Vladimir Skokov unleashing a powerful drive inside the very first minute to force a stretching save from Piatek.
The game quickly settled with both sides putting passes together, but it always seemed that the Russian second division side, who are already over halfway through their season, had an extra gear. The Terek defence belied their cumulative age of over 130, and demonstrated the frugalness that has seen the side leak just six goals in 25 domestic games this season, with Lech unable to muster a shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.
The hosts' attacking was also subdued with their main target man Andrei Fedkov well contained throughout. It was left to his colleagues to search for a vital first-leg lead and in the last 20 minutes, gaps began to appear in the Lech defence. On 71 minutes Terek were awarded a penalty after Mariusz Mowlik's handball, but Khomukha's spot-kick was weak and Piatek easily parried.
But rather than dwell on the miss, Terek continued to press and a minute later Mazayev found the net but the referee disallowed his effort. Fedkov and Alexandre Lipko had further chances but Piatek denied them each time and looked to have earned the Polish outfit an invaluable draw before Khomukha finally beat him in the dying minutes.
'A tough game'
Both coaches felt their respective sides might have performed better. "It was a tough game for both sides, but we should have pressed more," Terek coach Vait Talgayev said. "It's hard to tell whether a one-goal advantage will be good enough; we'll see on 26 August."
Lech coach Czeslaw Mihnewicz was disappointed to concede so late, saying: "We had much more possession but Terek created more chances. It's a pity we conceded a goal in injury time and had no time to equalise. I hope we are more aggressive in the return leg."