Sevilla nabs draw against CSKA
Chilean winger Mark Gonzalez scored a 30-meter equalizer for CSKA Moscow to draw 1-1 with Sevilla in the first knockout round of the Champions League on Wednesday.
Alvaro Negredo collected an away goal for Sevilla in the 25th minute, tapping into an empty net after a fast counterattack and cross from Jesus Navas on the synthetic turf of Luzhniki Stadium.
Gonzalez leveled in the 66th minute with a left-footed strike that flew into the top corner.
The Russian team was otherwise unable to capitalize on incisive buildup play and will have to score in Spain on March 16 in the second leg to have any chance of progressing to the quarterfinals, a stage neither side has reached.
"It would have been better to win but this can be considered a good result," said Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez, whose late introduction of injured substitute Frederic Kanoute showed the visitors did not want to settle for the draw.
"We needed to make short passes because of the artificial pitch. We got a draw and we will decide everything in the second leg."
CSKA, making its debut in the knockout stage of the tournament, opened confidently, with Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop narrowly beating Tomas Necid to a ball floated over from Vasily Berezutsky.
A lapse from Sevilla defender Julien Escude let Necid in a minute later, but Gonzalez fired the striker's layoff over the crossbar.
The visitors' first chance came in the seventh minute but striker Renato just failed to connect with Adriano's cross.
Necid then forced a sharp low save from Palop following a defense-splitting pass from Alexei Berezutsky, while Sevilla's Fernando Navarro muscled Milos Krasic off the ball as the Serbia winger attempted to skip through on goal.
With the home side on top, CSKA's recent midfield signing Keisuke Honda hit a rising shot from the edge of the penalty box into the sidenetting.
Negredo's goal came against the run of play and owed much to a teasing cross from Navas, which the striker slotted in at the far post.
Honda almost made Sevilla pay for a defensive blunder in the 31st minute, but the Japanese player struck low and wide from 18 meters.
CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev watched a 30-meter shot from Ndri Romaric sail inches over his crossbar while at the other end, former Russia captain Yevgeny Aldonin hit a low half-volley that grazed Palop's left-hand post.
CSKA nearly equalized soon after half time but Honda, under pressure, headed wide a cross from Krasic.
Sevilla substitute Diego Perotti squared for Negredo to volley over the goal in the 62nd minute, before Akinfeyev spilled but then caught a long-range free-kick.
Gonzalez equalized with his long-range effort but the visitors from Spain almost regained the lead when Perotti came close to reaching Navas' cross-cum-shot.
The pace of the match increased with both sides pushing for a winner, but it was CSKA who almost snatched victory.
Palop was at full stretch to deny Necid after the Czech swiveled and shot inside the area. The same striker forced a reflex save out of the goalkeeper in the 85th minute as CSKA were denied.
"Unfortunately we conceded on their first attack ... and had to exert more effort in defense," said CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky. "I am satisfied with the way we played - all is not lost."