Andrew Flint –
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow ended in glorious failure as their confident high-pressing first-half display came unstuck within two second-half minutes, sending them into the Europa League
- Luke Shaw made his first start of the season for United while David De Gea rested
- Alan Dzagoev stuns Old Trafford with deflected goal from Vitinho shot
- Quickfire double after the hour mark knocks stuffing out of CSKA
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow – 2-1
Goals: 0-1 (Vitinho 45’), 1-1 (Lukaku 64’) 2-1 (Rashford 66’)
Vitinho’s deflected goal on the stroke of half-time gave CSKA Moscow rocked Old Trafford, but ultimately the visitors’ heroic display came unstuck by a double lightning strike from Manchester United’s strike partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford. For an hour at Old Trafford, the confident high-pressing of CSKA played its significant part in an enthralling end to end contest, but there was little their defence could do about the precision and power of the response that hit them after the break.
Konstantin Kuchaev’s laser-guided through ball released Fernandes behind Luke Shaw, leaving the Russian international in acres of space approaching the byeline, His cutback eluded the onrushing defence to find his fellow Brazilian-born teammate around the penalty spot, whose composed side-footed effort struck the back of Alan Dzagoev and diverted inside the far left post. United appealed for offside, but Daley Blind had slid off the pitch to play CSKA’s number 10 onside, and the goal stood.
It was no less than the Russian side deserved, but they should have fallen behind as early as the fourth minute. Lukaku set his fellow frontman Rashford the other side of 37-year-old Sergey Ignashevich, but the England international’s rolled left-foot effort struck the inside of Igor Akinfeev’s left-hand post and bounced to safety. Luke Shaw was causing problems down the United left flank, showing the confidence and pace on the ball that originally convinced the club’s hierarchy to part with £27 million for his services three years ago.
Akinfeev was alert to a volleyed rocket from Shaw after 17 minutes that rebounded to Lukaku six yards out, but pressure from Ignashevich denied the Belgian a clear shot and the danger passed. Two minutes later a searching Pogba through ball found Shaw in behind Fernades, but his cross was too quick for Rashford to connect. Halfway through the opening period, United had had seven shots on goal and over 60% possession, but it was the frequent successful 50-50 challenges and intelligent use of the ball high up the pitch that gave CSKA impetus.
Paul Pogba was becoming visibly frustrated as he lost yet another challenge to Alan Dzagoev ten minutes before the break. The shorter of the two playmakers was involved in a one-two with Fernandes moments later that was protected only by a sliding Shaw challenge, while Fedor Chalov and Dzagoev used their strength and nous to feed Vitinho, but the Brazilian’s shot blazed well over.
With Basel also 1-0 up by this stage, the impetus was on CSKA, but it was Lukaku who struck first for the hosts by outmuscling Viktor Vasin to a lifted Pogba cross. Before the match had settled again, a defensive mishap between Vasin and Berezutskiy left the ball to rebound to Juan Mata, whose lobbed assist found Rashford in space. Taking time to set himself, he drilled a low finish across Akinfeev to confirm United’s first place and condemn CSKA to Europa League football. Once Pogba had his tail up, there was little doubt that the game was over, but the sense of what could have been hung over CSKA as they trudged off the pitch at full time.
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow – Man of the Match
Luke Shaw deserves a huge amount of credit for confident, athletic performance down the left flank on what was his first start of the season. He has been publicly admonished for being overweight by Mourinho in the past, not to mention having had numerous serious injuries
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow – Talking Point
The goal that threatened to rock Old Trafford was initially questioned by United’s defence, but an accurate interpretation of the law resolved the issue. When Vitinho’s shot from Mario Fernandes’ cutback was struck, Alan Dzagoev was past the last United defender on the pitch, but Daley Blind had slid out of play attempting to cut out the initial cross meaning he was still technically an active player for offside. In the end, it may be no difference to the result, but it certainly capped a fine first-half performance from the visitors.
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow – Match Stats
- CSKA Moscow were less than half an hour from having the highest points total of a side that failed to progress to the knockout stages
- United had more than double CSKA’s shots on target
- CSKA will play Europa League football in the spring
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow – Line-ups
Romero – Lindelöf, Smalling, Blind – Valencia (Tuanzebe 72’), Pogba, Herrera (McTominay 67’), Shaw – Mata, Lukaku (Martial 74’), Rashford
Coach: José Mourinho
Akinfeev – Ignashevich, Vasin, Vasiliy Berezutskiy – Fernandes, Golovin, Kuchaev, Nababkin (Khosonov 90+1’) – Chalov (Gordyushenko 67’), Vitinho (Zhamaletdinov 82’), Dzagoev
Coach: Viktor Goncharenko
Andrew Flint is an English freelance football writer living in Tyumen, Western Siberia, with his wife and two daughters. He has featured on These Football Times, Russian Football News, Four Four Two and Sovetski Sport, mostly focusing on full-length articles about derbies, youth development and the game in Russia. Due to his love for FC Tyumen, he is particularly interested in lower league Russian football and is looking to establish himself in time for the 2018 World Cup. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMijFlint.