How Sheriff are shaping ahead of Old Trafford trip
Sheriff Tiraspol's preparations for Thursday's historic game against Manchester United took a hit at the weekend, as they slipped to their first domestic defeat of the season.
Sheriff remain in pole position in the Moldovan National Division, but second-placed Petrocub have cut their lead to six points after inflicting a 1-0 defeat on Sunday. Vladimir Ambros's goal in first-half injury time was enough to give the hosts the win at Stadionul Orasenesc.
It was the 25th fixture of what is already an epic campaign for our Europa League opponents - they have played 10 more games than the Reds, having opened the season with a Champions League qualifier against Zrinjski on 6 July.
Sheriff went on to also beat Maribor (Cedric Badolo pictured above in that tie) and therefore reach the third qualifying round, before losing both legs to Viktoria Plzen and dropping into the Europa League.
Until Sunday, their only losses this season had been caused by clubs from other countries, including back-to-back defeats to Real Sociedad. Of course, United also beat them in our first meeting in Moldova, on 15 September.
Red cards were shown to Sheriff players in both of their games against La Real. When the Moldovan side lost 3-0 in Spain, defender Armel Zohouri was sent off in the 33rd minute, while in the first match, Real Sociedad's 2-0 win was made more comfortable by Moussa Kyabou's dismissal just past the hour mark.
Our first-ever visiting team from Moldova will train at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, a little over 24 hours before they walk out of the tunnel on Matchday Five in the Europa League.
Sheriff are currently third in Group E by virtue of beating bottom-placed Omonia Nicosia 3-0 in their first game. United are six points clear of them in second spot, with the objective of overtaking Real Sociedad at the top still alive as we go into the remaining two fixtures.