Seydou Doumbia spared PFC CSKA Moskva a losing start to life in Group B as the Russian league leaders fought back from two goals down to secure a draw away against LOSC Lille Métropole.
The home side's return to Europe's top table took the form of a rising crescendo of first-half pressure capped by Moussa Sow's back-heeled finish and a second for Benoît Pedretti close to the hour. Lille looked to be cruising at that point, but Doumbia sparked CSKA's comeback with 18 minutes remaining before leaving the hosts stunned with a fine last-minute leveller.
After a nervy, scrappy start, it was the French champions who gradually began winning the territorial battle, keeping it tight at the back while pushing ever further forward. Gracing this level for the first time in five years, they finally carved out the chance their increasing domination merited when Sow scooped over with an acrobatic flick from Marko Baša's headed pass.
Moments later, Sow found himself with an even better opportunity to score, collecting Pedretti's chip over the top only to screw his effort wide with just Vladimir Gabulov to beat. It was a miss the striker was nearly left ruing when Doumbia danced through the Lille defence until Baša intervened. The Dogues were quickly back on the front foot, though, as Florent Balmont, the lively Eden Hazard, Franck Beria and Pedretti all attempted shots.
Lille's pressure was building and CSKA's resistance eventually snapped as the interval beckoned. Sow looked to have missed out when he nudged Pedretti's fizzing low cross against the post from close range, but the Senegalese international buried a noticeably tougher chance with a back-heel when David Rozehnal immediately played the ball back in.
If there were any danger of complacency setting in, the visitors dispelled it with a sweeping counterattack shortly after the restart, Vágner Love marauding through the middle and feeding Zoran Tošić, whose curling effort struck the woodwork. Leonid Slutski's charges hardly had time to be encouraged before they conceded again, however, Pedretti aiming high into the net from Balmont's cutback.
Lille then threatened a third when Gabulov denied Baša, yet it was the increasingly urgent Army Men who registered next, Doumbia wriggling past Rozehnal and slotting low into the far corner. The hosts began wobbling as time ticked away and Doumbia's finishing acumen denied them a valuable win as he combined with Alan Dzagoev and served up another excellent finish.
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