A John Carew goal midway through the second half pegged back PFC CSKA Moskva in Birmingham, but Aston Villa FC may live to regret a litany of missed chances.
The home side dominated throughout at Villa Park, yet were trailing for over half the match after a moment of supreme class from Vágner Love on 14 minutes, the Brazilian's ninth goal of this UEFA Cup campaign. It was a dream start for Zico in his first competitive match in charge of CSKA, and he would have been impressed with how his team dealt with wave after wave of Villa attacks before the pressure told 21 minutes from time, Carew meeting Craig Gardner's sentient drag-back and firing beyond the wrong-footed Igor Akinfeev.
Vágner Love class
Coming into the match without a competitive fixture in two months, CSKA looked a little ring rusty during the fractious opening stages. Vágner Love is never less than well-oiled, however. With tackles flying in, the Brazilian provided a moment of colour that stood out in the mire. Collecting a loose ball he twisted and turned into space, played a one-two with Alan Dzagoev and, having outstripped Zat Knight, coolly slotted beyond goalkeeper Brad Guzan. How Villa manager Martin O'Neill must have longed for such composure at the other end.
The home team soon took the initiative as Ashley Young led a merry dance on the left flank but Gabriel Agbonlahor and Carew both passed up presentable headed opportunities. The profligacy was a sign of things to come as the hosts surged forward, Gardner going close after half-time when he headed Young's corner against the crossbar. Villa's attacking bent left holes at the back, and CSKA could have doubled their lead midway through the second period but the advancing Aleksei Berezutski applied a defender's finish to Vágner Love's clever lay-off. Two minutes later Carew had made it 1-1, leaving the tie wide open ahead of next Thursday's second leg.