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Souza fires Fenerbahçe as Lokomotiv plan comeback

Fenerbahçe's unlikely first-leg hero against Lokomotiv Moskva, Souza aims to "get the job done" as they defend a 2-0 lead, Igor Cherevchenko warning: "It will be quite different in Russia."

Fenerbahçe beat Lokomotiv Moskva 2-0 in the first leg
Fenerbahçe beat Lokomotiv Moskva 2-0 in the first leg ©AFP/Getty Images

Defensive midfielder Souza was the unlikely hero in Istanbul for Fenerbahçe against Lokomotiv Moskva and now he is focusing on closing out the tie in Russia on Thursday.

The Brazilian international scored twice in last week's 2-0 UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg win, leaving Fenerbahçe a step closer to at least equalling their 2012/13 semi-final run. Those strikes were the summer signing from São Paulo's first home goals for Fenerbahçe but his thoughts immediately turned to Moscow.

"That was the second time I have scored twice in my career, but this one was more important," Souza, 27, said. "They were important goals if we want to advance to the next round. I hope we can get the job done in Russia."

The lead might have been even bigger, with Fenerbahçe firing on all cylinders, creating several chances thanks to superb displays from wing-backs Caner Erkin and Gökhan Gönül – each assisting one of Souza's goals. Lokomotiv looked a shadow of the side that had cruised through the group stage.

It could be that the team had lost their rhythm after the Russian Premier League's long winter break, with no competitive action for over two months. Coach Igor Cherevchenko said: "Of course my players were going to have problems after not playing a competitive game for a long time."

Watch first-leg highlights

Nor has the trainer been helped by the departure to Everton of Baye Oumar Niasse, who had a hand in seven of Lokomotiv's 12 goals in this campaign. The Senegal forward scored four and made three, driving his side forward with his pace and creating space for team-mates with clever runs.

"I'm a fighter," Niasse had announced after November's 1-1 draw at Beşiktaş, and last Tuesday Lokomotiv badly missed his spark. Still Cherevchenko warned: "It will be quite different in Russia."

His opposite number Vítor Pereira, sometimes criticised in Turkey for cautious tactics, got it spot in the first leg, denying Lokomotiv room for manoeuvre and ensuring free rein for Fenerbahçe down the wings whenever they had possession. There were certainly opportunities for more than 2-0.

Gökhan Gönül hopes to lift the trophy in May
Gökhan Gönül hopes to lift the trophy in May©AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile his rock-solid back four, bolstered by Simon Kjær and Bruno Alves and supported by the tireless midfield trio of Souza, Mehmet Topal and Ozan Tufan, kept their fourth clean sheet in seven UEFA Europa League games. They can rightfully dream of a repeat of 2012/13.

Captain Gökhan said: "In the past, we have climbed to the 39th step of the 40-step ladder but could not take that last step. We can do it again. If we are together as one with our fans, we can reach the final or even win the trophy."