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Sychev double gets Lokomotiv back on track

FC Lokomotiv Moskva 3-1 AEK Athens FC
Captain Dmitri Sychev scored two second-half goals as the in-form Russian side returned to winning ways in Group L, despite a late scare.

Sychev double gets Lokomotiv back on track
Sychev double gets Lokomotiv back on track ©UEFA.com

FC Lokomotiv Moskva gave fresh impetus to their UEFA Europa League campaign as they eased to a 3-1 victory against AEK Athens FC.

After a fractious opening period, two second-half strikes by Dmitri Sychev proved the Greek Cup holders' undoing. The 27-year-old broke the deadlock two minutes after the restart following good work from Victor Obinna, and picked himself up to take a firm grip on the match from the penalty spot midway through the half. Dimitris Sialmas pulled one back late on, but Felipe Caicedo allayed any nerves by restoring their two-goal cushion.

The Railway Men, beaten 2-0 by RSC Anderlecht last time out, struggled to get going early on despite bossing possession. They looked sluggish, ponderous in midfield, with little pace or movement in attack, and AEK goalkeeper Giannis Arabatzis was not unduly troubled by their long-range pot shots – the best the home side could muster.

Guilherme had to be far more active at the other end when Steve Leo Beleck was put through on goal, producing a fine save to deny the Cameroonian forward. By half-time, coach José Couceiro had seen enough, introducing Obinna for the disappointing Maicon, and the substitute made an immediate impact, turning his marker inside out before finding Sychev alone in the penalty area. The Lokomotiv skipper dutifully slotted in from two metres.

With 19 minutes to go, Sychev doubled the advantage with an expertly taken penalty after being brought down by Nikos Karabelas. There was still time for some late drama, however, as Sialmas's 89th-minute header cracked open the door: Caicedo, on as a 66th-minute replacement, duly slammed it shut on the counterattack.

The result lifts the Russian side to six points in Group L; AEK remain on zero, and will need to come out on top when these sides meet again on 3 November.

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