03/11/2009 17:51, Report by Steve Bartram
United 3 CSKA Moscow 3
midfield axis of Scholes and Darren Fletcher increasingly influential. The pair almost combined to put United ahead on 14 minutes as the former passed infield for the latter, but Fletcher's powerful shot arced agonisingly past Akinfeev's right-hand post.
However, CSKA served a quickfire reminder of their own need to take points back to Russia, as Tomas Necid escaped the attentions of Jonny Evans and fired straight at van der Sar. In the same passage of play, Owen took advantage of a ricochet to burst into the area, but could only toe-poke his effort straight at Akinfeev.
Macheda then drilled a left-footed effort just past the post after a sumptuous turn, but the visitors moved into a shock lead on 25 minutes. Dzagoev latched onto a chested pass from Necid, but his opening appeared to have gone after being herded wide by Jonny Evans. Despite the tight angle, the Russian struck a powerful effort across van der Sar's chest and high into the net.
The goal galvanised United's support and players, and the hitherto pin-drop atmosphere was suddenly cranked up. On the field, United responded by drawing level within four minutes. A fine decoy run from Gary Neville fashioned space for Valencia to cross, Nani gently caressed the ball in behind the CSKA defence, and Owen swept his shot unerringly inside the far post.
Normal service was resumed, but only for a matter of seconds. The visitors notched an immediate reply as Dzagoev dummied a ball infield, Necid sprung the offside trap with another neat chested pass, and Krasic rounded the exposed van der Sar and tucked away his finish.
CSKA were suddenly oozing confidence; hurtling into challenges and constantly foraging for further gaps to exploit. While United were understandably shell-shocked initially, a strong finish to the half saw Akinfeev smartly deny Macheda and Scholes. Nevertheless, the Reds went into the interval staring at a shock