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Last-gasp CSKA hold Real Madrid

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By David Redshaw

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Real Madrid were left to rue a glut of missed chances as Pontus Wernbloom struck in the third minute of stoppage time to salvage a draw for CSKA Moscow in their Champions League first leg last-16 tie at the Luzhniki Stadium.

José Mourinho’s men suffered an early blow when Karim Benzema was forced off after just 13 minutes when he pulled up with a muscle problem after a shot on goal. However, Cristiano Ronaldo gave Madrid the lead 15 minutes later when he took advantage of some poor defending following a cross from Fabio Coentrao to drill a low shot past goalkeeper Sergei Chepchugov.

Madrid remained in charge for the rest of the half despite the sub-zero temperatures and an artificial pitch, with the Russians rarely threatening, and Mesut Ozil brought a good save out of Chepchugov just before the break.

It was more of the same in the second period, with Ronaldo firing over the bar and then failing to get his second of the night when faced with just the goalkeeper to beat. The Portuguese then wasted another gilt-edged opportunity when he side-footed wide of the post as Real attempted to kill off the tie.

Nonetheless, they were made to pay for it when Swedish international Wernbloom crashed home from close-range after the ball had broken to him kindly in the Madrid penalty area.

Speaking after the game, midfielder Xabi Alonso told the club’s official website the result could have been better but refused to blame the cold, although he did acknowledge the pitch was different to what Los Blancos are used to.

“Of course, we were expecting to get a better result and score a second goal,” said Alonso. “But a draw is not bad and we can’t complain. The cold was not a great problem even if the grass was a little different. I noticed that we took some time to adapt, particularly with our passing. Our opponents did well despite not posing us many problems, but I’m confident we can progress in the return leg.”

Boss Mourinho appeared in a serious mood at the post-match Press conference but is convinced his players will settle the tie in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu.

“I’m not happy but neither am I sad,” he insisted. “Without doing anything special we had chances to score a second goal, but it’s not a bad result and is not a drama. The same thing happened last year in Lyon and we qualified for the quarter-finals. We can beat them at home,” he added.

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