03/11/2009 17:51, Report by Steve Bartram
United 3 CSKA Moscow 3
As expected, United dramatically reached the knockout stages of the Champions League - but not without the mother of all frights.
Goals in the final six minutes from Paul Scholes and Antonio Valencia - albeit via a huge deflection - saved United from a first Champions League home defeat since February 2005, after CSKA Moscow had stunned Old Trafford by roaring into a 3-1 lead.
The Russians, who looked a team transformed from the sides' meeting in Moscow a fortnight ago, repeatedly took advantage of defensive generosity from the Reds, striking before the break through Alan Dzagoev and Milos Krasic. Michael Owen had briefly levelled in-between, but Vasili Berezutski struck early in the second half to seemingly put the game beyond United.
Inevitably, the Reds rallied late on, especially after the introduction of substitute Wayne Rooney and, after Scholes had headed home on 84 minutes, Valencia's 20-yard strike took a huge deflection off Georgi Schennikov and flew past the impressive Igor Akinfeev.
From the first whistle, the signs suggested United were in for a tough evening. An unfortunate ricochet threatened to deal the Reds' hopes a blow inside 20 seconds, as Dzagoev led a break of three visitors against two home defenders, but he could only fire over the bar from 20 yards. Two minutes later, Deividas Semberas chanced his arm from similar range, and his low drive skidded just past Edwin van der Sar's post.
In response, Valencia latched onto a fine through-ball from Wes Brown, but the Ecuadorian's attempted shot was blocked by a sliding challenge from Schennikov deep inside the CSKA area. Owen was then the beneficiary of some intricate build-up play from Nani and Valencia, but the Reds' number 7 could only scuff his shot, allowing the visitors to clear.
After a rocky