CSKA Moscow came from two goals down, but still suffered a 3-2 home loss to Inter Milan in their second game in the UEFA Champions League.
Both teams showed a lack of form in recent weeks, with CSKA salvaging a draw at Lille and Inter suffering a shocking defeat to Trabzonspor on the opening match day.
But in Moscow, the Italians wasted no time in snatching the lead. Russian keeper Vladimir Gabulov was far from perfect on a 6th minute corner, allowing Lucio to score into an empty net, 1-0.
Unmarked Giampaolo Pazzini fired from the middle of the box 23 minutes later to double the lead of Claudio Ranieri’s men.
It seemed all over for CSKA, but the Armymen weren’t ready to give up so easily. Alan Dzagoev beat Inter goalie Julio Cesar with a splendid free kick to revive the intrigue in first-half stoppage time.
The Armymen went all out on the attack after the restart. They created plenty of chances and finally managed to do what seemed impossible: Vagner Love showed off his dribbling skills before slotting home to level the score in the 77th minute, 2-2.
CSKA were still celebrating when Inter regained the lead. Esteban Cambiasso found Mauro Zarate on the edge of the penalty area and the Argentinean shot low in Gabulov’s corner, 3-2.
“We played very well,” Ranieri said. “I really enjoyed the game. Our team combined a lot. But the main thing was the character of my players. Nobody spared himself on the pitch. We scored first and it gave additional strength to the team. Then we scored again, but our opponents got a goal back. Their second goal was a result of our error. CSKA also showed character, but in the end, it was us who won.”
CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky also found the match entertaining, but expressed regret at the result.
“The encounter had plenty of twists in the plot and was very emotional, too,” he said. “It’s a pity that after putting so much effort into coming back into the game we conceded the third goal. Now the dominant feeling is of disappointment, but looking at how the match developed, it is difficult to blame someone. We attacked, created opportunities, but defensive mistakes marred all of our efforts in front.”
Meanwhile, Turkish side Trabzonspor, whom many considered Group G underdogs, have topped the standing after a 1-1 home draw against Lille.
Moussa Sow gave French side the lead after half an hour, but the hosts equalized from Gustavo Colman‘s penalty with 15 minutes remaining.
Trabzonspor lead with 4 points after two games, with Inter a point behind. Winless Lille and CSKA occupy the two of the remaining spots, having 2 and 1 points, respectively.
UEFA Champions League’s Matchday 2 scores:
Bayern Minich 2-0 Man. City
Napoli 2-0 Villarreal
CSKA Moscow 2-3 Inter Milan
Trabzonspor 1-1 Lille
Man. United 3-3 Basel
Otelul Galati 0-1 Benfica
Lyon 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Real Madrid 3-0 Ajax