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Lokomotiv beat Anji to retain Russian Cup

© Reuters Limited 2001

By Gennady Fyodorov

MOSCOW, June 20 (Reuters) - Lokomotiv Moscow beat Anji Makhachkala 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out to retain the Russian Cup on Wednesday. Dmitry Loskov, Russia's top scorer last year, scored the winning penalty in the final as Lokomotiv won the cup for the fourth time in the last five years. With the score locked at 0-0, Anji captain Narvik Sirkhayev appeared to have given the Caucasus side the cup for the first time when he scored in the final minute of regulation time. But Georgian substitute Zaza Dzhanashia equalised in the last minute of stoppage time to send the game into extra time.

"To be honest, I didn't believe we would be able to pull through after Sirkhayev's goal," Lokomotiv coach Yuri Syomin said. "I thought it was a catastrophe for us. But we battled back and deserved this victory." Anji coach Gadji Gadjiyev blamed the referee and his team's inexperience. "It seems like referees nowadays can add as many minutes of stoppage time as they want," he said.

"I think we were a bit unlucky, playing in our first final, and also got tired in the end." Anji dominated the first half but Lokomotiv goalkeeper Ruslan Nigmatullin kept his team in the game with several spectacular saves. The Russia international denied Sirkhayev, Anji's most dangerous player, twice in the space of two minutes midway through the first half. With Lokomotiv applying pressure after the interval, Sirkhayev scored against the run of play when he raced through the Lokomotiv defence and beat Nigmatullin from 10 metres. With time running out, Dzhanashia rescued Lokomotiv with a close-range goal after a goalmouth scramble.

With neither side producing any chances in extra time, the game went to penalties. Again Nigmatullin was Lokotmotiv's hero as he saved Anji's second penalty to give his side an early advantage. Anji levelled the score when Lokomotiv captain Igor Chugainov, playing in his eighth final, failed to beat Sergei Armishev with the fourth kick.

But Anji's Bosnian midfielder Elver Rahimic blasted the ball over the bar on their next attempt before Loskov made sure of victory by scoring the final penalty for Lokomotiv. Despite the loss Anji will play in the UEFA Cup next season, while last season's runners-up Lokomotiv go into the Champions League qualifiers for the second successive year.

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