Manuel Veth –
CSKA Moscow v Plzen kicked off on a cold and icy night at the Luzhniki World Cup stadium. The game drifted back and forward like the snow that was falling insight the Luzhniki but in the end, it was the Czechs that would secure their second ever away victory in the competition.
- CSKA Moscow fall after taking the lead
- Vlašić wins the man of the match award
- CSKA need to work on efficiency
CSKA Moscow v Plzen
Goals: 1-0 (Nikola Vlašić, 9’), 1-1 (Roman Prochazka, 56’), 1-2 (Lukas Hejda, 82′)
CSKA dominated the early stages of the match and within nine minutes had won a penalty. Mario Fernandes played a ball into the box that Milan Petrzela failed to clear, and instead he fouled Georgi Shchennikov inside the box. Nikola Vlašić stepped and converted the penalty.
Moscow were in the driver’s seat and were looking for a second goal. In the 14′ minute, Shchennikov should have doubled the lead with a header, in the 19′ minute Ivan Oblyakov tested Viktoria keeper Ales Hruska with a volley from just ten yards out and then in the 21′ minute Vlašić, who was dominating proceedings at that stage, cut in from the right but his curled effort missed the target. Another glorious chance came and went in the 28′ minute when Shchennikov broke free on a fantastic pass from Bistrović but once again the target was missed.
And Plzen? The Czech’s finally created their first chance of the match in the 33′ minute. A Roman Prochazka freekick from the edge of the box forced Igor Akinfeev into a save. Following that freekick, Viktoria were finally able to assert some pressure on the Russians.
Overall, CSKA should have been up two or three goals at this point but were lucky to take the lead into the second half after Shchennikov brought down Petrzela inside the box in what was a reverse of the first penalty. Prochazka stepped up, but Akinfeev came up big and stopped the penalty.
The equaliser did, however, arrive on the 56′ minute with Prochazka making amends for missing his penalty. The midfielder received the ball just on the edge of the box and then beat keeper Akinfeev with a wonderful curled effort to score the equaliser. It was a deserved equaliser at this stage as CSKA had been complacent since their hot spell between in the first 30 minutes.
Knowing that they needed to win this game, the goal woke CSKA up. Vlašić (59′), Oblyakov (60′) and Efremov (62′) had chances for CSKA to retake the lead. Arnor Sigurdsson had the biggest chance in the 71′, however, left unmarked inside the box the striker went one-v-one with keeper Hruska but his low drive was not placed well and easy delt by the keeper.
Instead, it was Plzen that took the lead. Sitting deep looking for counters Plzen bend but did not break. In the 82′ minute, Plzen won a corner after a rare counter-attack. That corner found the head of Lukas Hejda and his header beat goalkeeper Akinfeev to give the Czech’s the lead.
The goal shocked CSKA, who seemed to be in absolute control at this stage of the match. For the last ten minutes, they were pressing hard for the equaliser, but Viktoria did not budge and ended up walking away with all three points from the Luzhniki.
CSKA Moscow v Plzen – Man of the Match
Despite the defeat, CSKA’s Nikola Vlašić was the man of the match. On loan from Everton, the Croatian midfielder was the instigator of every single attack by the Russians. He won nine of his 14 duels, completed all three of his dribble attempts and showed leadership when he put away the penalty in the first half.
CSKA Moscow v Plzen – Talking Point
A draw would have been enough to secure CSKA a place in the Europa League. A victory and the Armymen would have had fate in their own hands on matchday 6 at the Bernabeu. But despite their dominance in the first 30 minutes and then the 20 minutes following Plzen’s equaliser CSKA walk away with empty hands. What was lacking today was the cold-heartedness to finish chances. Viktor Goncharenko’s project is reliant on young players, and while his football is pleasing on the eye, it is also obviously still a project that needs time to develop as his young players are coming to terms with the cold hard reality of international football.
CSKA Moscow v Plzen – Match Stats
- Youth over experience – eight of CSKA’s used players today were 23 or younger.
- This was Viktoria Plzen’s second Champions League away victory.
- Both of those victories have come against teams coached by Viktor Goncharenko as Plzen’s last away victory was against BATE Borisov in November 2011, who were coached by Goncharenko at the time.
CSKA Moscow v Plzen – Line-ups
Akinfeev – Chernov, Rodrigo Becão, Nababkin – Shchennikov (Efremov, 46′), Bistrovic, Vlasic, Mario Fernandes – Oblyakov (Kuchaev, 73′), Sigurdsson – Chalov (Zhamaletdinov, 80′)
Coach: Viktor Goncharenko
Hruska – Limbersky (Kopic, 46′), Hubnik, Hejda, Reznik – Prochazka, Hrosovsky – Kovarik, Cernak, Petrzela (Havel, 70′) – Chory (Reznicek, 81′)
Coach: Pavel Vrba
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.