A last-minute goal from Vágner Love was not enough to earn PFC CSKA Moskva a point in the Netherlands as second-half strikes from summer signings Danko Lazović and Kenneth Perez got PSV Eindhoven off to a winning start in Group G.
If chances were at a premium in a cagey first half, there was no shortage of drama after the break as Lazović marked his European debut for PSV with the opening goal on 59 minutes following a Perez pass. Provider turned scorer with ten minutes to go, although any hopes of PSV coasting to victory were dashed by Vágner Love's late intervention. The Brazilian's strike sparked a frenzied finale, with Heurelho Gomes saving well before Jô headed over at full stretch with almost the final touch of the game.
CSKA had enjoyed the better of the early exchanges; the dribbling of Brazilian forward Jô in particular posing problems for the right side of the PSV defence. The back line was put under more pressure on the quarter-hour when Vágner Love was fouled in a dangerous position on edge of the PSV box, but that opportunity and another following a neat Love-Jô one-two both came to nothing.
PSV, in contrast, struggled to find front men Danny Koevermans and Lazović, and things did not look like improving in the 28th minute when midfield linchpin Ibrahim Afellay limped off after a heavy challenge by Elvir Rahimić; Perez coming on. The 33-year-old's presence lifted the home team, and the Dutch title-holders almost scored when Lazović broke free on the left and forced Veniamin Mandrykin into a close-range save before blasting the loose ball narrowly over.
As the first half drew to a close, both clubs came close to a breakthrough. First it was the turn of PSV – a right-wing centre from the lively Lazović being glanced centimetres wide by Koevermans. Moments later, Lazović's Serbian international team-mate Miloš Krasić, in the colours of the Russian title-holders, did well to create space though his delivery was nodded past Gomes's right-hand post by Jô.
PSV came out for the second half in determined mood. Perez failed to take advantage of two opportunities just after the restart, but Lazović showed him how to do it on the hour, striding on to a Perez through ball after the Dane had held off Rahimić and biding his time before calmly side-footing in. Suddenly the match was alive. CSKA threatened through Jô's drive before Yuri Zhirkov latched on to a clever reverse pass from Vágner Love and blazed wide when perhaps he should have done better.
CSKA's fate appeared sealed when Perez received a pass from fellow substitute Jan Kromkamp and shot through the arms of Mandrykin. However, a neat finish from Vágner Love – rounding Gomes before stroking the ball into the empty net following a super assist from Zhirkov – almost provided the cue for an unlikely draw.