Dublin: 3°C Thursday 9 December 2021

CSKA Moscow win to keep pressure on Man United and Basel

The Russian side will head to Old Trafford on matchday six with their fate in their own hands.

CSKA Moscow players celebrate a Champions League goal against Benfica.
CSKA Moscow players celebrate a Champions League goal against Benfica.

Updated at 19.36

GEORGY SCHENNIKOV’S first-half strike and a Jardel own goal earned CSKA Moscow a 2-0 win over Benfica on Wednesday, keeping the Russian side’s hopes of Champions League progression alive.

With nine points on the board, CSKA travel to Old Trafford next month to take on Group A leaders Manchester United knowing their fate is in their own hands, although they will be without key players Bibras Natcho and Pontus Wernbloom through suspension.

Benfica’s rotten campaign continues with another defeat and the Portuguese side are guaranteed to finish bottom of the pool, having been beaten in all five of their games, scoring just one goal, after suffering the ignominy of having CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev record his first clean sheet in the Champions League proper since November 2006 – 43 appearances ago – against them.

After losing their previous two Champions League home games, CSKA were desperate for an improved performance in front of their own fans at VEB Arena and they opened the scoring after 13 minutes.

A deflection off Benfica defender Eliseu fell kindly for Natcho to slot a pass through to Schennikov, who finished well but may have been offside when the ball was played.

Another ricochet gave CSKA their decisive second goal, Vitinho’s attempted cross turned into his own goal by unlucky Benfica centre-back Jardel, whose side exit Europe entirely as a result of their latest loss.

CSKA had a golden opportunity in the fourth minute when Wernbloom laid the ball off for Vitinho, but his placed 20-yard strike bent well wide of the post.

Sustained pressure from the Russian side soon led to the opener, Natcho slipping in Schennikov to compose himself and beat Bruno Varela, although the rampaging wing-back may have been marginally offside.

Benfica should have equalised immediately, a cute header back into the box from Diogo Goncalves finding an unmarked Jonas, who cushioned a presentable volley well wide.


Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership.

Become a Member

But it was CSKA who continued to make the running, Varela making a superb save to his left to keep out a fizzing half-volley from Alan Dzagoev after 26 minutes.

Benfica’s first shot on target came just before the interval via Eliseu’s hopeful 30-yard drive, but Akinfeev made a comfortable save.

Wernbloom wasted a great chance to tee up Dzagoev after 54 minutes, with CSKA beginning to feel the pressure, before Akinfeev had to make a decent stop to deny Andre Almeida.

And CSKA then wrapped up the points thanks to an unfortunate own goal from Jardel.

The defender lunged in to try and block a cross from Vitinho, but could only turn the ball past the helpless Varela.

CSKA should have extended their lead further, but Vitinho lashed into the side netting from a tight angle after 66 minutes with Dzagoev well-placed for a pass in the middle of the box.

Although Benfica coach Rui Vitoria made a raft of attacking changes, his side were resigned to their fate and Russia international Akinfeev was left virtually untested as he ended his 11-year wait for a Champions League shutout.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Four-star Chelsea book place in Champions League knockout stages>

Liverpool investigate claims Seville police assaulted travelling fans>

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel