Lokomotiv Moskva v Nice background

Lokomotiv are in pole position to progress despite Mario Balotelli's early first-leg double; Manuel Fernandes' second hat-trick of the season has given the Russia side the advantage.

Manuel Fernandes after scoring his and Lokomotiv's third goal at Nice
Manuel Fernandes after scoring his and Lokomotiv's third goal at Nice ©AFP/Getty Images

Russian Premier League leaders Lokomotiv Moskva are in prime position to reach the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League for the first time after coming from two goals down to defeat Nice 3-2 on the French Riviera.

• The French club finished runners-up to Lazio in Group K during the autumn, winning and losing three games apiece, while Lokomotiv topped Group F with 11 points to reach the knockout phase for the third time this decade.

Previous meetings
• A first-half double from Mario Balotelli – his fifth and sixth goals of this campaign – put Nice in the driving seat in the first leg, only for Lokomotiv's Portuguese international Manuel Fernandes to steal the Italian's thunder with a hat-trick – his second of the competition – that brought the Russian visitors a 3-2 victory. The hosts were reduced to ten men with the score at 2-1 when Racine Coly received a straight red card.

• Lokomotiv have only played two other games against French opposition, winning at home (2-1) and losing away (0-1) against Monaco in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League round of 16 – and exiting the competition on the away goals rule.

• Nice's only experience of Russian opposition prior to this tie came against FC Krasnodar in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage. They lost 5-2 away with Ari, now at Lokomotiv, scoring two late goals, and won the return fixture 2-1 – although by that stage Nice were already eliminated and Krasnodar qualified for the next round.

Form guide
• Lokomotiv have won only three of their last eight European fixtures in Moscow, losing the same number. They are yet to lose at home, however, in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, having defeated Athletic Club 2-1 in 2011/12 and drawn 1-1 against Fenerbahçe in 2015/16.

• Nice kicked off this season's group stage with their biggest European away win – 5-1 at Zulte Waregem – but that is the only victory they have posted in their last six UEFA matches on the road, losing four of them including their other two group games this term, at Lazio and Vitesse (both 0-1).

Highlights: Nice 2-3 Lokomotiv Moskva
Highlights: Nice 2-3 Lokomotiv Moskva

• Nice are playing European football in the spring for the first time since 1960, when they reached the quarter-finals of the European Champion Clubs' Cup.

• Lokomotiv qualified for this competition by winning the 2016/17 Russian Cup – with a 2-0 victory against Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast in the final – and have now progressed from the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage four times out of five.

• The Moscow club have yet to go beyond the round of 32, however, having lost at this stage to Sevilla in 2005/06, Athletic Club in 2011/12 and Fenerbahçe in 2015/16. Their most successful European campaigns were in 1997/98 and 1998/99, when, under current coach Yuri Semin, they reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup two years running.

• Third in France's Ligue 1 last term, Nice were beaten 4-0 on aggregate by Napoli in this season's UEFA Champions League play-offs after overcoming Ajax on away goals (3-3) in the third qualifying round. Les Aiglons made their UEFA Europa League group stage debut in 2016/17 but failed to reach the round of 32.

• Nice have already played 11 UEFA matches this season, making it the longest European campaign in the club's history.

• Lokomotiv have won seven of the eight European ties in which they have returned home with a lead from the first leg, including the last seven. The only exception came in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup first round, when they beat Bayern München 1-0 away only to lose 5-0 in Moscow against the club that would go on to win the trophy.

• Nice have never previously lost the first leg of a UEFA competition tie at home.

UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: none
Out: Timofei Margasov, Delvin N'Dinga

In: Mickaël Le Bihan, Ihsan Sacko
Out: Vincent Koziello, Gautier Lloris, Wesley Sneijder, Rémi Walter

Links and trivia
• Nemanja Pejčinović joined Lokomotiv from Nice in 2014, having made exactly 100 Ligue 1 appearances – and scored six goals – in four seasons with the French Riviera club.

• Other Lokomotiv players to have played in France – and to have faced Nice in Ligue 1 – are Maciej Rybus (Lyon, 2016/17) and Éder (LOSC Lille, 2015–17).

• On-loan forward Éder scored Portugal's extra-time winner in the UEFA EURO 2016 final against France.

• Manuel Fernandes has scored two hat-tricks in this season's UEFA Europa League, the first on matchday two in a 3-0 home win against Zlín. He is the seventh player to have scored more than one hat-trick in the competition and the fourth to have done so in the same season. Radamel Falcao holds the record with three in one campaign, for Porto in 2010/11.

• Lokomotiv went into the winter break with an eight-point lead over fellow UEFA Europa League participants Zenit and Spartak Moskva at the top of the Russian league.

• Nice defender Dante has completed 554 passes in the UEFA Europa League's first seven matchdays – the highest figure in the competition.

• Racine Coly is banned for this match after his red card in the first leg.

• Suspended for next match if booked: Vladislav Ignatyev, Taras Mikhalik (Lokomotiv), Mario Balotelli (Nice).

Penalty shoot-outs
• Lokomotiv Moskva's record in UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W0 L1:
3-4 v Lausanne, 2010/11 UEFA Europa League play-off

• Nice have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.

The coaches
• Now 70, Yuri Semin took charge of Lokomotiv for a fourth time in August 2016, having lifted the club's only two Russian titles during his second stint from 1992 to 2005, and promptly steered the side to Russian Cup glory. He also played for the club, from 1975 to 1977, and coached Dynamo Kyiv to the 2008/09 Ukrainian league title in the first of two spells there.

• Former Switzerland midfielder Lucien Favre has been in charge at Nice since May 2016. He made his name as a coach by capturing back-to-back Swiss titles with FC Zürich, and subsequently enhanced his reputation with spells in Germany at Hertha Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach, leading the latter into the UEFA Champions League.