Martial scores to rescue 1-1 draw for United at CSKA
KHIMKI, Russia (AP) Anthony Martial gave away an early penalty and then scored the equalizer as Manchester United came back to draw 1-1 with CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday.
United’s struggles in Europe continued on a cold night in Russia, with Louis van Gaal’s men lacking creativity for much of the game despite enjoying twice as much possession as the hosts.
Martial’s overall performance was the bright spot, with the teenager heading the equalizer and Van Gaal pronouncing himself ”very happy” with the striker’s fighting response to his earlier handball.
Wolfsburg’s 2-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in the night’s other Group B game leaves the German team top with six points at the halfway point of the group stage, two points ahead of United and CSKA, with PSV last on three points.
Van Gaal said he was satisfied with a draw since it leaves United ”on schedule” to qualify for the knockout stages with two wins in its final two home games.
”We were 1-0 behind in a very strange way, a penalty, a present, and then you have to play here against a very good, organized team,” he said. ”I have only seen until the end the spirit to win.”
CSKA took the lead when Martial committed a clear handball as he tried to stop Mario Fernandes.
Goalkeeper David De Gea saved the resulting 15th-minute spot-kick from Roman Eremenko, but was unlucky as the ball bounced back off his legs, falling to Seydou Doumbia for an easy finish.
Van Gaal said he was ready to overlook Martial’s error in giving away the penalty.
”Antony Martial is also a human being and he reacts. It is a stupid reaction, but sometimes things will happen,” the Dutchman said. ”It’s a pity, but you know, he was not affected also in halftime, so I was very happy with his performance.”
After a difficult first half, Van Gaal took off Bastian Schweinsteiger for Marouane Fellaini in an attempt to up the tempo, and the decision helped United to level.
A slick team move was behind the equalizer, as Antonio Valencia was set free in space on the right flank and his cross was met by Martial with a diving header.
The 19-year-old Frenchman had previously failed to score in nine career games in the Champions League proper for Monaco and United, although he had scored once for Monaco in qualifying.
United captain Wayne Rooney was an isolated figure for much of the game as he struggled to link up with Martial and Ander Herrera, although he did twice force straightforward saves from CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
De Gea was largely solid in goal for United, stretching to stop a goal-bound Ahmed Musa effort from distance in the 31st minute.
The Russian team could have had a second penalty when Marcos Rojo handled the ball early in the second half, but the referee waved play on.
For CSKA, the draw continues a run of strong results against Manchester teams in the Champions League after taking four points from two group games with Manchester City last season.
CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said his team’s chances of holding on to its one-goal lead had been undermined by minor injuries to midfielders Eremenko and Alan Dzagoev, stopping CSKA from launching fast counterattacks.
”We played two very different halves,” he said. ”In the second half when you don’t have this counterattacking game, it’s very hard to keep a clean sheet.”