PFC CSKA Moskva midfielder Miloš Krasić promised uefa.com his team would "fight until the end" for a UEFA Champions League last-16 place after losing ground in Group B despite a brave performance in a 3-3 midweek draw at Manchester United FC.
CSKA led 3-1 with seven minutes remaining after Alan Dzagoev, Krasić himself and Vasili Berezutski all found the Old Trafford net but after Paul Scholes had reduced the deficit in the 84th minute, United rescued a point when Antonio Valencia's stoppage-time strike deflected in off Georgi Schennikov. That goal left the Russian side three points behind second-placed VfL Wolfsburg, winners at Beşiktaş JK and their next opponents in Moscow on 25 November – a match Deividas Šemberas will miss after his added-time sending-off.
Krasić said CSKA could look forward to that key fixture with renewed confidence having become the first visiting team to hit three goals at Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League since RC Deportivo La Coruña in October 2001. "I think that we have a good team and we showed it today," said the Serbian midfielder. "We will fight until the end. I think we have a chance of beating Wolfsburg and Beşiktaş [in Istanbul], although they are also strong teams. But if we play like we played today, I think it will work out."
CSKA had not won away in the UEFA Champions League since December 2004 – and never on English soil – yet they showed a positive mindset from the outset of an open contest, with Dzagoev breaking forward to shoot over inside the first minute. In new coach Leonid Slutski's maiden assignment in the competition they moved the ball around with assurance in the first period in particular, with Krasić an influential figure in the midfield. "That's what we had agreed on – to attack and to have good control of the ball," he said, "and we created some good moments and scored two goals in the first half. It went well but of course we are disappointed, as during that short period of time at the end we conceded two goals and finished with a draw. But let me repeat that to score three goals at Old Trafford is a very good result."
While the timing of United's equaliser will have hurt CSKA, it is arguable the visitors would have lost the game but for the brilliance of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had told the home supporters, via his programme notes, to "watch out tonight for CSKA's goalkeeper" and they could not have failed to notice him. Though he made several important stops in the first half – notably when denying Michael Owen at close range – it was as CSKA clung on in the face of United's fightback that Akinfeev really excelled. One double save to keep out an Owen header and Wayne Rooney follow-up was remarkable; he denied substitute Rooney again in similar fashion moments later after Federico Macheda's header had hit a post. Krasić said: "We are very grateful to our keeper for playing this well today. I think that Akinfeev is the best young keeper in Europe today."
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.