Debutant Wernbloom hits injury-time equaliser to keep tie alive


Pontus Wernbloom made Real Madrid pay for a string of misses as CSKA Moscow pinched an improbable draw when they looked certain to head to the Bernabeu behind in the Champions League last-16 tie.

Wernbloom scored in the third minute of stoppage time at the end of the match, cancelling out Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half strike for Madrid.

There was a certain symmetry in how the equalising goal went in, as twins Vasili Berezutski and Aleksei Berezutski were both involved in the build-up, having both been at fault for the opening goal.

Alan Dzagoev provided a cross from the right, Vasili Berezutski headed the ball towards the back post and his brother nodded across goal for Swedish midfielder Wernbloom to lunge in and score.

CSKA had barely posed a serious threat all match, but they will head to the March 14 second leg in Spain on level terms.

At their Luzhniki Stadium, with its artificial pitch, it was the Russians who had the first noteworthy effort, as Dzagoev’s athletic volley from Georgi Schennikov’s left-wing cross went wide of the left post.

From there, Madrid took charge. Gonzalo Higuain, on early as a substitute for the injured Karim Benzema, almost scored with a curling left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area, but Sergei Chepchugov was equal to the effort and surpassed that save with another as Sami Khedira seized on the loose ball and drilled a fierce shot which the goalkeeper touched over.

Ronaldo opened the scoring after 28 minutes when hapless defending, first in giving the ball away in the right-back area and then when defending the cross that followed, presented him with the opening.

Fabio Coentrao crossed from the Madrid left, Vasili Berezutski could not jump to clear the ball or race out quickly enough to avert the danger and twin Aleksei managed only to tip the ball with his head to Ronaldo, 12 yards out beyond the far post.

The gift was happily accepted by Ronaldo, who powered a low shot underneath Chepchugov. Mesut Ozil drew a save from Chepchugov before half-time arrived with Madrid in charge.

The visitors poured pressure on the home defence in the early stages of the second half, Ronaldo hoisting one shot too high as he looked for a second goal.

Nigerian Ahmed Musa offered momentary threat for CSKA when he buzzed forward and shot straight at Iker Casillas.

But there should have been more Madrid goals to follow. Ronaldo was clear on Chepchugov who won their one-on-one battle, and later he had a similarly clear opening after the ball broke to him kindly on the edge of the penalty area, but placed a sidefooted shot wide of the left post.

Between those strikes there was a faint threat from CSKA, after Coentrao gave away a free-kick on the home side’s right flank, just outside the penalty area.

Keisuke Honda opted against crossing and tried to beat Casillas at his near post. Although Casillas punched the ball, it looked to be an unnecessarily dramatic move from the goalkeeper who could have made an easy catch.

Madrid seemed to have staved off any danger, so they were stunned when the leveller went in.

Dzagoev’s cross was not the most menacing and Vasili Berezutski’s header on was merely hopeful. But Aleksei Berezutski was smart in not going for the target, and before the Madrid defence reacted Wernbloom had smashed in the ball from seven yards.

Madrid boss Mourinho said after the match: ‘Our opponents did little to score but got their goal. They were happy to get that.

We had our chances, especially in the second half, but didn’t convert them. In the end I’m satisfied
with the result.’