Honda stars as Army Men march on
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Sevilla FC 1-2 PFC CSKA Moskva (agg: 2-3)
Keisuke Honda set up one and scored the winner as the Russian side reached the quarter-finals for the first time.
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PFC CSKA Moskva made club history and denied Sevilla FC their own first taste of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals as goals from Tomáš Necid and Keisuke Honda rewarded a terrific performance in Spain.
Manuel Jiménez's team fought with spirit and Diego Perotti cancelled out Necid's 39th-minute opener before the break, but ultimately they could not cope with the intense work rate and superior finishing of the Russian visitors. That it was an error by veteran goalkeeper Andrés Palop which allowed CSKA to score a crucial second, making it 3-2 on aggregate, will leave a bitter taste for the Spanish side, but it took a fine performance to beat them and put Leonid Slutsky's side in Friday's draw.
It had started so brightly for the hosts. Within three minutes Perotti and Jesús Navas combined to set Luis Fabiano up for a fierce volley. Igor Akinfeev produced a wonderful instinctive stop, but that crisp beginning proved a false dawn. Rather than the signal for a Sevilla onslaught the visitors dug their way into the game, with Mark González growing influential down the left. The Chilean international was indefatigable, tracking back to help Georgi Schennikov keep Jésus Navas quiet and then surging forward to help Honda. The Japan playmaker was marvellous, and a key figure in the opening goal.
Sevilla were still patting Didier Zokora on the back following a fine tackle by the corner flag when Honda cushioned the resulting throw-in, feeding Necid with a neat pass. The striker turned Ivica Dragutinović and stroked the ball low into the far corner in one smooth movement. Sevilla's response was almost instant. Barely 120 seconds had passed when Palop's massive clearance bounced over the CSKA defence. Navas caught Schennikov napping, nipped in behind him and squared the ball to Perotti for the equaliser.
If this was to be Sevilla's history night that could have been the breakthrough moment. Jiménez's team came out after the break, with Frédéric Kanouté on for Diego Capel, and missed a glorious chance to forge ahead. Navas wreaked havoc down the right and crossed for Kanouté to head towards the back post where Perotti dived in and made contact but simply could not nod into the net. Punishment followed. Fernando Navarro fouled Miloš Krasić and though the distance did not make it seem a drastic error, Honda lashed in a drive which swerved and deceived Palop into punching the ball into his own net.
Inevitably, with the remarkable pace and determination of both sides to reach the last eight for the first time the match opened up. Perotti almost equalised again but lifted a free-kick just over while Palop made partial amends for his error by saving bravely at the feet of González. The booking count also rose to five as tiredness set in as commitment refused to wane. Sevilla fought hard, throwing everything forward and ending up with five strikers on the pitch. But it was CSKA's night.