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Russian Roulette

Could Manchester United have another 'Rotor Volgograd moment' this evening?

Conceding early goals have cost the club when facing Russians in the past.

LOUIS VAN GAAL’s Manchester United head into their clash with Russian side CSKA Moscow knowing that a loss could have a huge bearing on whether or not they’ll make it to the knock-out stages of the competition.

With four points from three games, United are in second place in Group B but will want to avoid having to go to Wolfsburg in their final game still needing something (they play host to PSV in a fortnight).

Still, their record against Russian teams is not good.

In 1992, they drew with Torpedo Moscow in the Uefa Cup first round tie at Old Trafford and then lost on penalties in the reverse fixture.

In 2009, they were held 0-0 by CSKA Moscow in Manchester.

And in between, they faced Rotor Volgograd just over 20 years ago.

sp1873 / YouTube

The second-leg is best-remembered for Peter Schmeichel’s 89th-minute equaliser but United were still eliminated after the 2-2 draw.

They were stunned early on as the Russians raced into a two-goal lead thanks to a beautifully-worked opener from Vladimir Nidergaus and then a thunderbolt second courtesy of Oleg Veretennikov.

“We lost the game in the first 20 minutes,” Alex Ferguson said at the time.

Manchester United v Rotor Volgograd UEFA CUP SOCCER 1 RD 2LG Veretennikov (9) celebrates after Rotor's second goal back in October 1995. Steve Morton / EMPICS Sport Steve Morton / EMPICS Sport / EMPICS Sport

“You go 2-0 down and you have a mountain to climb in Europe. They were bad goals to lose because the last thing we said before the match was that a clean sheet would win it for us. We knew we would make enough chances.”

With United having conceded after 15 minutes of the first game against CSKA last month, something similar tonight could prove very costly indeed.

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