FC Anji Makhachkala took a large stride towards a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 with a comfortable 3-1 victory against Hannover 96 in Moscow.
The German outfit stunned the hosts early on as Szabolcs Huszti gave them a surprise lead. Samuel Eto'o restored parity 11 minutes before half-time, setting the foundation for second-half strikes from Odil Ahmedov and Mbark Boussoufa which put Guus Hiddink's side in control of the last-32 tie.
Things had started so well for Hannover, who went ahead thanks to Huszti. The former FC Zenit St Petersburg midfielder sent a tame right-foot shot towards goal and somehow the ball found its way into the back of the net, with goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov at fault.
Anji responded well and were back on terms 12 minutes later following good work by new signing Willian. The Brazilian burst down the right before pulling a pass back to Eto'o, who tapped the ball into an empty net. Ahmedov fired the Premier-Liga outfit in front early in the second period with a well-struck volley following an intelligent pass from Yuri Zhirkov.
Eto'o had an excellent chance to extend the advantage from the penalty spot after he was tripped by Christian Schulz. His spot kick was weak and easily saved by Ron-Robert Zieler, diving to his right.
The Anji captain made amends on 64 minutes as he broke on the counterattack. He delayed his pass to perfection into the path of the onrushing Boussoufa, whose coolly taken right-foot strike gave the Hannover goalkeeper no chance. The Bundesliga team went close to getting a goal back late on, yet will have plenty to do in next week's second leg.
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