CSKA MOSCOW 2, MANCHESTER CITY 2
Sergio Aguero and James Milner put City in charge; Milner hits the woodwork too
Seydou Doumbia and Bebras Natcho earn a point for CSKA
Two second half goals in Moscow earned CSKA a point in an eerie and near deserted stadium and dealt a huge blow to Manchester City’s hopes of qualifying from Champions League group E.
City had gone 2-0 up before the break but contrived to fall victim to a CSKA fightback as they equalised with a hotly disputed late penalty.
The near-empty stadium, a UEFA punishment for past racist behaviour from CSKA fans, made the atmosphere strange, but it didn’t seem to faze the City players early on.
Sergio Aguero scored in his fifth game game on the bounce after an unselfish pass from Edin Dzeko in the 29th minute.
It was also Aguero’s fifth goal in three games against CSKA, the other four coming in City’s two group encounters last season.
The in-form Argentine also laid on the ball for James Milner’s 38th minute goal when he scuffed his own shot to put City 2-0 up before the break.
Milner could have made it 3-0 a minute later but hit the post as City looked to be cruising to victory in Russia, with fouls on Dzeko and Milner himself either side of the goal shot that could have been decent penalty shouts.
It was to be a costly miss as City neglected to protect their lead and the Russians extended an icy grip on City’s resolve in the second half.
City hadn’t kept a clean sheet in the Champions League for the previous nine games and that unwanted record was extended as CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky reverted to a 4-3-3 formation.
Seydou Doumbia, who had scored twice for CSKA at the Etihad last year, came on as a second half substitute as part of a tactical switch and the fightback was on.
In the 64th minute Doumbia pulled a goal back for CSKA after getting to Ahmed Musa’s cross first.
City were edgy for the remaining quarter of the game but they kept looking for a third goal, but Aleksandar Kolarov brought down Doumbia for a very soft penalty with just five minutes remaining.
Bebras Natcho’s spot kick flew past the outstretched hand of Joe Hart, who got very close, to level the scores.
It could have been even worse for City as Musa’s last minute shot went just wide of the near post.
The result ended CSKA’s six match losing streak in European competition and means City have just two points after three games and will need to beat Roma away and CSKA at home to have a chance of progressing from the group.
City might even need something from Bayern Munich’s visit to the Etihad next month too – a tall order indeed.