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CSKA late show denies Real
CSKA Moscow snatched a last-minute equaliser to hold Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw in the Russian capital and keep their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie in the balance.
Jose Mourinho's men had to contend with freezing temperatures and an artificial pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium, but it looked like they were firmly in control after Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a crucial away goal in the 28th minute.
The Portuguese forward struck with a precise finish into the bottom corner after CSKA's defence had failed to deal with a looping cross, and Real were rarely threatened from that point on.
However, they failed to add to their lead as goalkeeper Sergei Chepchugov pulled off a series of impressive saves to keep the hosts in contention.
Real were then made to pay for their missed chances when Pontus Wenbloom volleyed home with virtually the last kick of the game, capping a spirited performance from CSKA in their first competitive match of 2012.
The goal sparked wild celebrations and brought an end to Real's perfect record in Europe this season, but CSKA will require an even greater effort to prevail in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on 14th March.
It was the Russians who had the first noteworthy effort, as Alan Dzagoev's athletic volley from Georgi Schennikov's left-wing cross went wide of the left post.
From there, Madrid took charge. Gonzalo Higuain, on early as a substitute for the injured Karim Benzema, almost scored with a curling left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area, but Chepchugov was equal to the effort and surpassed that save with another as Sami Khedira seized on the loose ball and drilled a fierce shot which the goalkeeper touched over.
Ronaldo opened the scoring after 28 minutes when hapless defending, first in giving the ball away in the right-back area and then when defending the cross that followed, presented him with the opening.
Fabio Coentrao crossed from the Madrid left, Vasili Berezutski could not jump to clear the ball or race out quickly enough to avert the danger and twin Aleksei managed only to tip the ball with his head to Ronaldo, 12 yards out beyond the far post.
The gift was happily accepted by Ronaldo, who powered a low shot underneath Chepchugov.
Mesut Ozil drew a save from Chepchugov before half-time arrived with Madrid in charge.
The visitors poured pressure on the home defence in the early stages of the second half, Ronaldo hoisting one shot too high as he looked for a second goal.
Nigerian Ahmed Musa offered momentary threat for CSKA when he buzzed forward and shot straight at Iker Casillas.
But there should have been more Madrid goals to follow. Ronaldo was clear on Chepchugov who won their one-on-one battle, and later he had a similarly clear opening after the ball broke to him kindly on the edge of the penalty area, but placed a sidefooted shot wide of the left post.
Between those strikes there was a faint threat from CSKA, after Coentrao gave away a free-kick on the home side's right flank, just outside the penalty area.
Keisuke Honda opted against crossing and tried to beat Casillas at his near post. Although Casillas punched the ball, it looked to be an unnecessarily dramatic move from the goalkeeper who could have made an easy catch.
Madrid seemed to have staved off any danger, so they were stunned when the leveller went in.
Dzagoev's cross was not the most menacing and Vasili Berezutski's header on was merely hopeful.
But Aleksei Berezutski was smart in not going for the target, and before the Madrid defence reacted Wernbloom had smashed in the ball from seven yards.
Date: 2012-02-22 11:34:35