Manager Leonid Kuchuk saw FC Sparta as a good test for his regular top 11. Young Aleksey Miranchuk who is still mostly a dugout dweller was given a chance in the centre of midfield squeezing Mbark Boussoufa out to the centre-left position.
Both teams rushed forward with the starting whistle, both employed hard tackles and high pressure. Lokomotiv were better in possession but Sparta were good in setting up dangerous attacks.
In the end of the day constant pressure brought fruit when Lokomotiv defender Jan Durica fouled on Kreici in the penalty area. The Sparta captain Lafata took the spot-kick and opened the score.
However, the sting did not confuse the Railwaymen who still had the ball trying to deliver it into the area from set offense. But the "Spartans" were concentrated and every now and then threatened Abayev's goal during counterattacks. In one episode the goalie demonstrated perfect reaction stopping a close-range shot.
In half-time Kuchuk refreshed the squad with new players. This added speed to Lokomotiv's attacks but every time they lacked something on the final stage.
Meanwhile the opponents capitalized on their single opportunity. In another counterattack Kreici carried the ball across the Railwaymen's half and made a chip shot over Abayev who had gone too far from the goal to secure it.
Ten minutes later the Railwaymen finally scored. The red-greens were given a free-kick not far from Sparta's goal and Sergey Tkachyov showed why he's nicknamed "Russian Hulk" blasting the ball right into the low corner.
Alas, it was not enough time for another effective attack. Anyway, the coaching staff now have enough information to analyze.
On February 8 Lokomotiv are playing their last Spanish friendly against Ludogorets, Bulgarian champions.
Lokomotiv - Sparta 1:2 (0:1)
Goals: Lafata, 13 – pen. (0:1). Kreici, 77 (0:2). Tkachyov, 85 (1:2).
Lokomotiv: Abayev, Shishkin (Yanbayev, 46), Corluka (Mikhalik, 46), Durica (Belyayev, 46), Denisov (Seraskhov, 67), Diarra (Ozdoyev, 46), Tarasov (Ondua Gael, 81), Samedov (Tkachyov, 46), Aleksey Miranchuk (Grigoryev, 46), Boussoufa (Koryan, 60), N'Doye (Pavlyuchenko, 46).
Sparta: Vaclik, Brabec, Kaderabek, Holek, Costa, Matejovsky (Vacha, 75), Dockal, Marecek, Husbauer (Vacek, 86), Krejci (Prikryl, 81), Lafata (Bednar, 75).
February 4. Chiclana-de-la-Frontera. Novo-Sancti-Petri Stadium.
04 February 2014 22:13