Johnny Russell feels Dundee United can shock Russians a second time
DUNDEE United striker Johnny Russell believes the club’s performance in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier against Dynamo Moscow last midweek would have come as a surprise to the Russians and he is targeting a victory in tonight’s return.
United drew the first leg at Tannadice 2-2, taking the lead twice and conceding a deflected injury-time equaliser, and then started their SPL campaign with a 3-0 victory over Hibernian on Sunday.
Russell, who opened the scoring against Hibs, reckons Dynamo did not take United’s threat seriously enough in the first leg and wants to win in Moscow.
“The fact we were underestimated spurred us on. There were a few comments too and I believe foreign teams are disrespectful that way,” he said. “They came into the tie not thinking they were going to get that kind of game.
“They believe the foreign teams work hard and that’s it but we have a lot of great technical players in Scotland.
“The way we played was an eye-opener for them but after putting so much effort into the first leg their late equaliser was a body blow.
“However, the way we kicked on against Hibs speaks volumes for the lads and we reckon we can win in Moscow. We want to push ourselves to the next stage. All that’s missing is getting through to that next round.”
United have suffered European qualification heartache in the last couple of seasons, losing to Polish side Slask Wroclaw on away goals last year and pushing Greek giants AEK Athens close two seasons ago.
Russell has said the team will take the previous experiences as an incentive to progress further this season and that the attacking mentality instilled in them by manager Peter Houston will remain in place at the Khimki Arena.
He said: “We’ve had some harsh luck in the Europa League in the past two seasons when things went against us so this is a massive incentive. We have to channel the frustration of being hit by that late sucker punch in the first leg into this return game.
“We’re going out there to attack. We want to win the game – simple as that – and hopefully we can get the result that will put us through.
“Attack is the best form of defence as far as we’re concerned. We don’t have the kind of players who are content to sit back and defend.
“We’re an exciting team when we go forward and hopefully that rings true come Thursday night.”
Houston named the same starting line-up in the league victory over Hibs as he had done three days previously against Dynamo and the side could be unchanged for three consecutive matches.
Speaking after Sunday’s comfortable win, which saw them move to the top of the fledgling SPL table, the manager insisted he will send his team out in search on victory.
“The way it stands now we are out so we have to go there with the same positive attitude that we did on Thursday and go forward,” he said.
“I’d rather lose 4-0 having a go rather than try and hold it – I think we are at our best when we are attacking and that is the only way we can play.
“We will have chances against us and hopefully the goalkeeper will be in the same kind of form and hopefully when it does go up the other end and we do create chances (Gary) Mackay-Steven, Russell and (Jon) Daly are on their game and we can score a goal.”
The return leg in Russia comes on the back of crowd disturbances between the two sets of fans at Tannadice last week and the resignation of Dynamo manager Sergei Silkin, who has been replaced on a temporary basis by former youth coach Dmitri Khokhlov.
Khokhlov, 36, has said his team will give United a harder challenge this time around and admitted he has spoken to Silkin ahead of the game.
“I understand the position is only temporary. I fully accept that, but I can promise our supporters that when we play Dundee United, we will perform at a far higher level than we have been showing so far,” he said.
“We owe it to Silkin to prove that we can play. I can assure you we will be better. I talked to Silkin about the tie. He gave me some advice, which I won’t be sharing.”
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