CSKA Moscow 2 #Manchester City 2
For English Champions Manchester City it ultimately proved to be a disappointing night in their Champions League Group E match away to CSKA Moscow, as they let slip what had looked likely to be a comfortable win and instead took only a point in a 2-2 draw. Leading by two goals to nil after a first half that saw their ace marksman Sergio Aguero and utility man James Milner on the scoresheet, they looked to be cruising midway through the second half but had reckoned without a spirited comeback from the current Russian champions.
City's game had received much attention in the British press and media prior to the game, as many questioned the 'advantage' to the English club and penalty to the Russian Champions of playing the game behind closed doors at the Arena Khimki, especially as the 'ban' prevented any City fans from entering the ground. There had even been a suggestion that perhaps the game should have been switched to the Etihad or that the Moscow club shouldn't have even been allowed to take any more part in the competition at all after previous incidents had resulted in the decision by UEFA. The fact that over 300 Moscow fans were able to 'sneak' into the ground on the night did little to create the usual atmosphere at a Champions League tie, but did make onlookers wonder how that was allowed to happen, with some suggesting that media passes may have been purchased by the fans.
The decision to go ahead with the match in Moscow seemed to have worked in City's favour though when they led by two goals to nil with 38 minutes on the clock, as Edin Dzeko latched on to David Silva's neat pass to unselfishly set up his strike partner Aguero to score and then Aguero created an assist of his own for England man Milner. They ended the half on top and came close to adding extra goals before the break, including a strong claim for a penalty after Dzeko seemed to be fouled.
However, naivety and defensive lapses seemed to encourage a comeback from Moscow in the second-half, as they rallied and pulled a goal back from substitute Seydou Doumbia on 64 minutes. It still seemed relatively comfortable for City, but they seemed determined to seek a third goal rather than ensuring that they were safe at the back. Their offensive endeavour did not pay dividends for once though, as CSKA were awarded a slightly dubious penalty for an alleged foul on Doumbia by Aleksandar Kolarov with only four minutes remaining, which Bebras Natcho converted.
The draw leaves City in third place in the group, but now only two points behind second placed Roma with three games to go. Qualification is still possible, but gaining at least another two wins will be a tall order, as neither Roma away nor Bayern Munich at home are likely to yield easy points.