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Ignashevich gives CSKA reason to believe in Porto

Published: Wednesday 16 March 2011, 20.45CET
FC Porto may lead 1-0 from the round of 16 away leg but PFC CSKA Moskva come to Portugal armed with a new secret weapon in goalscoring centre-back Sergei Ignashevich.
by Dmitri Rogovitski & Carlos Santos
from Moscow & Porto
Ignashevich gives CSKA reason to believe in Porto
Sergei Ignashevich celebrates one of his goals in CSKA's 2-0 defeat of Amkar last weekend ©Alexander Safonov

Tournament statistics

PortoCSKA Moskva

Goals scored37
Attempts on target99
Attempts off target107
Fouls committed223
Yellow cards23
Red cards4

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Published: Wednesday 16 March 2011, 20.45CET

Ignashevich gives CSKA reason to believe in Porto

FC Porto may lead 1-0 from the round of 16 away leg but PFC CSKA Moskva come to Portugal armed with a new secret weapon in goalscoring centre-back Sergei Ignashevich.

PFC CSKA Moskva's Kirill Nababkin is backing defensive colleague Sergei Ignashevich to continue his new-found scoring habit when the Army Men visit FC Porto in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 on Thursday.

The familiar names of Vágner Love, Seydou Doumbia and Tomáš Necid have been conspicuously absent from the scoresheet since the Russian winter break, with only Necid of that trio having registered in six matches. Instead, Ignashevich has come to the fore with four of CSKA's five goals, including both in Sunday's 2-0 Premier-Liga season opening victory over FC Amkar Perm. That double equalled his tally from 28 top-flight outings last term.

Nababkin now hopes the Russia centre-back can strike again at the Estádio do Dragão, where CSKA will attempt to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit. "I can only be happy for Sergei, who has been scoring for fun," he told "I believe he can score again in Portugal, although I want our strikers to get goals too. We are ready to put up a fight. The win against Amkar has given us confidence."

Ignashevich's penalty-box prowess is, unsurprisingly, the talk of the dressing room. "The lads are really happy for me," Ignashevich wrote on his website. "Our [Spanish] physio Paulino Granero now calls me Pichichi, and I have had a funny conversation with my son.

"After the Amkar game he called me to ask who scored. I told him I got a couple but he would not believe me and kept asking until I said that Vágner Love scored both goals. It was only then that he settled down."

CSKA face arguably their most difficult test of this UEFA Europa League campaign against the Portuguese Liga leaders and one of the competition favourites. Nonetheless, belief levels are intact among Leonid Slutski's squad.

"It was a painful defeat in Moscow," right-back Nababkin said of last week's first engagement in which CSKA squandered a host of openings before Fredy Guarín's solitary 70th-minute strike for Porto. "Our finishing let us down. We had a number of chances before and after half-time but wasted them and then conceded ourselves. We should never have lost."

Midfielders Keisuke Honda and Mark González – who has not played since Matchday 5 – are fit, although Doumbia is a doubt having sustained an injury last Thursday. Defenders Chidi Odiah, Viktor Vasin and winger Aleksandrs Cauņa did not travel to Portugal. Slutski's options were reduced further when his key defensive midfield player, Pavel Mamaev, tore a hamstring during training on the eve of the match. The 22-year-old Russian international is expected to miss up to four weeks.

Caution, meanwhile, is the watchword for Porto, whose coach André Villas-Boas is treating the Dragão encounter as if it were the first leg. "We need to tread carefully because if CSKA score first we are back to square one," said Villas-Boas, who is without suspended defender Alvaro Pereira. "We expect an attacking CSKA team as they have come here to win. They have to score."

Last updated: 17/03/11 8.05CET

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