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CSKA hit back to keep Plzeň point-less

PFC CSKA Moskva 3-2 FC Viktoria Plzeň
The Army Men rallied from a goal down in St Petersburg, leaving their opponents bottom of Group D following a second defeat.

CSKA Moskva 3-2 Plzeň: the story in photos ©AFP/Getty Images

Behind after four minutes, PFC CSKA Moskva recovered to beat FC Viktoria Plzeň and register their first points in UEFA Champions League Group D.

The scene was set for an away victory when František Rajtoral swept the Czech title holders into an early lead. However, Zoran Tošić ended CSKA's six-and-a-half hour wait for a goal in all competitions 15 minutes later, paving the way for Keisuke Honda to cutely put the Russian champions ahead.

Plzeň's second loss of the group stage was sealed when a back pass from Radim Řezník slipped under the foot of goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik. Marek Bakoš's added-time header amounted to nothing more than a consolation.

Coming into the match on the back of three defeats in four games – including a 3-0 loss to FC Bayern München on matchday one – CSKA got off to an inauspicious start in the unfamiliar surroundings of FC Zenit's Stadion Petrovski. Heavy rain had rendered their own pitch unplayable.

Given room to size up an effort on goal, Milan Petržela unleashed a shot which ricocheted off Sergei Ignashevich and into the path of Rajtoral. With Igor Akinfeev grounded, the right-back rolled in his first UEFA Champions League goal.

One ought to have become two either side of the quarter-hour mark. First Daniel Kolář headed wide after Akinfeev had ventured off his line in an attempt to cut out the cross. Then Bakoš failed to make the most of a counterattack led by Petržela. Their profligacy was soon punished: three minutes later and against the run of play, CSKA levelled.

Ahmed Musa, speeding onto Steven Zuber's chip down the left, advanced into the area and pulled the ball back for Tošić, whose first-time strike took a deflection off Václav Procházka. Visibly lifted by their first goal in 398 minutes, the Army Men turned the contest in their favour when Honda, fed by Tošić, nonchalantly beat Kozáčik with the outside of his left foot.  

Grateful to Akinfeev for denying the willing Rajtoral on the cusp of half-time, Leonid Slutski's men were quickly on the offensive after the restart, with Musa somehow hitting a post from close range when meeting Kirill Nababkin's right-wing delivery.

Another reminder of the fragility of the Premier-Liga side's lead was forthcoming when Honda cleared a goal-bound shot from Kolář, who then teed up Petržela for an effort which the under-pressure midfielder lifted over the crossbar. 

Now it was Pavel Vrba's team asking the questions, with CSKA content to protect their advantage, a task made easier by Kozáčik's misjudgement with 12 minutes remaining. Bakoš subsequently punished an errant punch from Akinfeev, but it was too little, too late.