FC Anji Makhachkala have qualified for the UEFA Europa League round of 32 thanks to a 2-0 victory in Moscow that ended Udinese Calcio's hopes of advancing.
It was a game of few chances and Anji were frustrated for long periods by the Serie A visitors' resolute defence. However, two second-half goals in the space of four minutes from Christopher Samba and Samuel Eto'o gave them the points they needed to stamp their ticket to the knockout phase. Even if they lose at BSC Young Boys on matchday six and end level on ten points with the Swiss club and Liverpool FC, their head-to-head record against those sides will carry them through.
Although a victory was all Guus Hiddink's side required to progress, the Dagestan outfit made a slow start, finding it tough to penetrate Udinese's well-organised rearguard. That said, the hosts perhaps ought to have taken the lead after just 12 minutes. The lively Yuri Zhirkov burst down the left and produced an inviting cross for Oleg Shatov, whose sweetly struck left-footed effort was tipped onto the crossbar in spectacular fashion by Željko Brkić.
The best opportunity Udinese could muster came courtesy of Antonio Di Natale. Pablo Armero swung in an inviting centre, yet the Italian international could not get any power behind his header, which was comfortably saved by Vladimir Gabulov. The game was in desperate need of a goal and, with 18 minutes to go, Samba duly obliged.
Anji had not had much success from their numerous corners, yet on this occasion Mbark Boussoufa picked out the 28-year-old and watched as his team-mate nodded in unchallenged. Three minutes later, the Premier-Liga club doubled their advantage. Eto'o had failed to make much of an impact on proceedings, but the Anji captain raced clear and, just as he looked set to shoot with his left, turned inside to send a calm right-footed finish past Brkić.
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