Lokomotiv Moscow defender Benedikt Howedes lapped up a “dreamy” return to Germany after his side’s 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in their Champions League Group D opener.
Goals from Grzegorz Krychowiak and Dimitri Barinov secured the win for Lokomotiv at the BayArena on Wednesday – their first away victory in the competition since the 2002-03 campaign.
Howedes, a World Cup winner with Germany in 2014, was back on home soil for the second time since his move to the Russian side in July 2018.
He played in Lokomotiv’s 1-0 defeat at his former club Schalke last season but was triumphant this time around.
“This win is incredibly important for us,” Howedes said. “We came into this group as massive underdogs; Atletico and Juventus are without a doubt the favourites.
“It’s great to be back in this neck of the woods – it’s dreamy.
“I used to live in Dusseldorf where our hotel was and I’m just 45 minutes from where I grew up. So it was really nice for me to come home.
“Leverkusen can compete and may be competing with us for third place so the fact we took three points was crucial for us.”
— FC Lokomotiv Moscow (@fclokomotiv_eng) September 18, 2019
Howedes scored an own goal to put Leverkusen on level terms before Barinov got a decisive second.
The Lokomotiv centre-back reckoned a protective bandage he wore on his head from an injury sustained in a previous match may have caused him to put the ball into his own net.
“In hindsight I can smirk about the own goal, but in that moment I was absolutely livid,” Howedes added.
“The bandage I was wearing didn’t help. The physio warned me it would be difficult and wanted me to wear a mask, but it definitely prevented me from being able to take in my surroundings as easily.
“That’s why I ripped it off in the second half.”
Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky took responsibility for an error which led to Lokomotiv’s second goal and lamented their lack of a killer instinct further forward.
“The whole team is obviously disappointed. Personally, my mistake sucks. I tried to play the ball out, which is part of how our possession-based style works,” said the Finland international.
“We want to have a lot of the ball and that does mean that sometimes our game looks a little risky. I’d love to say otherwise, but this won’t be my last mistake.
“We were incredibly unlucky not to grab a second goal early in the second half. We were all over them, but the goal just didn’t fall our way. It’s a disappointing evening on the whole.”
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