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Domestic distress spurs on rivals

PFC CSKA Moskva and quarter-final opponents AJ Auxerre will both aim to regain top form in their Moscow first leg.

Frustrating form
CSKA were held to a second successive goalless draw by Russian champions FC Lokomotiv Moskva, while Auxerre ground out a narrow victory against lowly FC Nantes Atlantique. Following their disappointing result at newly promoted FC Tom Tomsk, CSKA were looking to climb the table, but found Lokomotiv goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov in superb form as Valeri Gazzaev's men failed to score for the second game running.

Abject form
Gazzaev will now want his strikers to find their form in time for Auxerre's visit to Moscow. However, by the coach's own admission, Croatian international Ivica Olic will not be able to play for 90 minutes, while midfield player Osmar Ferreyra is also lacking match fitness and defensive midfield player Elvir Rahimic is suspended.

Striking threat
"I think Bonaventure Kalou is the player that stands out at Auxerre, but all their other forwards are a handful too," said CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. "We are facing two difficult ties but still intend to qualify for the semi-finals."

Winless run
Auxerre are hardly on song either, despite ending a run of six Ligue 1 matches without victory at home to Nantes on Saturday. Guy Roux's fifth-placed outfit were forced to work hard for the points after falling behind. Making his first start since December after overcoming a knee injury, centre-back Younes Kaboul levelled on 82 minutes before Luigi Pieroni secured the win with less than 60 seconds remaining.

Lachuer return
Kaboul was not the only returnee as playmaker Yann Lachuer lasted over an hour on his first full appearance in five months. Johan Radet is out of Thursday's game with a cruciate ligament injury, however, joining fellow defenders René Bolf (thigh) and Stéphane Grichting (hand), midfield player Benoît Cheyrou (achilles) and reserve goalkeeper Sébastien Hamel (adductor muscle) on the sidelines. The keeper has been replaced by Baptiste Chabert.

'Hope alive'
"Our display on Saturday would not have posed the slightest threat to CSKA," said coach Roux. "The only positive was our motivation, as we gave everything to snatch the points. I'd even be satisfied with a narrow defeat against a team who provide half the Russian international squad. My main aim will be to stay alive for the return leg."

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