FC Anji Makhachkala made sure of second place in UEFA Europa League Group K, Alexandru Epureanu scoring against former club FC Sheriff to end the Moldovan side's challenge.
Sheriff kicked off five points behind their Russian hosts but took a step towards the win that would have kept alive their hopes when Ismail Isa volleyed in early in the second period. Epureanu, who won three league titles with Sheriff between 2004 and 2007, soon equalised, however, and that proved enough for Anji to finish runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur FC in the section.
The visitors had started positively and might have broken through within two minutes as Cadu found space on the edge of the penalty area, Mikhail Kerzhakov turning the shot over. The best early chance came at the other end, Vladimir Sobolev racing clear before prodding wide, though the half ended as it had begun, with Sheriff denied by Kerzhakov, who charged off his line to block Kobi Moyal's effort.
The goalkeeper was helpless seven minutes after half-time, though, Benjamin Balima's searching right-wing cross finding Isa ahead of his marker to volley in. The lead lasted just six minutes; Nikita Burmistrov delivered a corner from the right and Epureanu peeled away at the far post to beat Vjekoslav Tomić with a looping header.
Sheriff refused to buckle, Kerzhakov again coming to Anji's rescue after Balima had met Cadu's free-kick. Anji nearly caught their guests on the break as substitute Pavel Solomatin sprinted through only to finish wildly. There was still one last scare when Sheriff's Ricardinho – dismissed for a second booking in the final seconds – sent in a dangerous centre, but Jhulliam passed up the opportunity and Anji were through.
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