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UEFA Champions League

  • November 25, 2014
  • • 12:00 PM
  • • Arena Khimki, Khimki
  • Referee: F. Brych
  • • Attendance: 150

CSKA Moscow 1-1 Roma: Late leveler keeps Russians in the hunt

CSKA pulled off a late stunner to keep Group E wide open.

CSKA Moscow was handed a UEFA Champions League lifeline as Vasili Berezutski's 93rd-minute leveler earned a 1-1 draw with Roma on Tuesday.

Roma captain Francesco Totti, already the oldest scorer in Europe's premier club competition at the age of 38, looked to have settled matters at Arena Khimki with a powerful free kick towards the end of the first period.

However, with CSKA facing elimination from Group E, Berezutski found the net somewhat fortuitously in the last minute of second-half stoppage time, as an apparent cross from the left evaded everyone and found the far corner.

CSKA's dramatic equalizer also represented a huge boost for Manchester City, which was facing the prospect of hosting Bayern Munich later on Tuesday with a five-point deficit to make up on Roma.

Rudi Garcia's side welcomes the English champion to Italy's capital in a fortnight's time in their final group game and will no doubt rue glaring misses from Radja Nainggolan and Adem Ljajic in the second half against CSKA, which Roma remain level with on five points. 

Having been thrashed 5-1 in the reverse fixture, CSKA initially adopted a cautious approach in another game played behind closed doors due to UEFA sanctions, but was able to offer a threat on the counterattack, as the club had done so effectively in its triumph at City.

With the home side content to defend in numbers and Roma initially lacking dynamism in the final third, the opening half-hour passed by with little in the way of goalmouth action.

However, the game began to open up as the interval approached and Alessandro Florenzi – operating as a right back in the absence of the injured Maicon - shot powerfully across goal in the 36th minute following a delightful first-time pass from Totti.

Veteran goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis was soon called into action at the other end, staying big to deny Seydou Doumbia after the striker had latched on to a through ball from the fit-again Bebras Natcho.

The save soon took on greater significance as Berezutski brought down Florenzi on the edge of the penalty area and Totti lashed the resulting free kick past Igor Akinfeev from 20 yards.

Nainggolan was guilty of a terrible miss 14 minutes after the interval as Roma looked to put the tie to bed.

Under no pressure, the midfielder dragged a shot wide from inside the CSKA area when he really should have at least tested Akinfeev.

Mario Fernandes put the ball in the Roma net midway through the second period, but the fullback had already been adjudged offside.

De Sanctis then made routine stops to deny Ahmed Musa and Alan Dzagoev, before Roma again came close to a second as a swift break ended with Akinfeev sticking out his left boot to save superbly from Ljajic.

CSKA was able to capitalize on the goalkeeper's good work, as Berezutski's delivery from the left missed Dzagoev and Doumbia but left De Sanctis helpless.