An early error from Toni Kroos condemned Real Madrid to a 1-0 defeat to CSKA Moscow in UEFA Champions League Group G action on Tuesday night at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. A wayward pass from the German midfielder made for easy pickings for CSKA’s Nikola Vlasic, whose goal just 65 seconds in would hold up for the remainder of the contest.
Most alarming for Real is the fact that the club have now gone three matches without scoring, and have just a single goal in their last four outings. Real was also saddled with a great amount of misfortune, as three times the Madrilenos hit the post.
There was plenty in manager Julen Lopetegui’s starting XI to talk about. In addition to the absences of Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Isco and Gareth Bale, the Real boss also rested Luka Modric meaning Lucas Vazquez got the nod, along with Dani Ceballos who was rewarded for his good form of late. Defender Sergio Reguilon also made his first team debut, filling in for Marcelo at left-back
It was a nightmare start for Los Blancos. Just 65 seconds into the match it was 1-0 to CSKA after a horrific error from Kroos. A poorly hit pass from the German for Raphael Varane was pounced on by Vlasic and the Croatian midfielder finished past goalkeeper Keylor Navas to send the home fans into pandemonium.
It took a bit of time but Real finally started recovering from that early shock and came agonizingly close to equalizing off a Kroos corner kick, but Casemiro could not latch onto the glancing near post header from Nacho. The Brazilian then came even closer to goal minutes later when his right-footer stun the post.
The woodwork would save the Russian side a second time before the break, this time on a Karim Benzema header that rang off the crossbar. Real’s first half woes also grew with the injury to Dani Carvajal, who had to yield his spot to Alvaro Odriozola.
Lopetegui was in desperate need of a spark, so he turned to his bench early in the second stanza, taking off Casemiro and the ineffective Lucas Vazquez for Modric and Mariano, respectively.The Russians kept their compact shape well. Real had CSKA pegged back in their own area but every time Los Blancos tried to filter a ball into the area, it was met by a sea of red shirts.
With the CSKA area completely clogged, Real took their chances shooting from outside the area. Kroos, Marco Asensio and Modric all had decent looks, yet the accuracy wasn’t there.
There would be one last stab at goal, with Mariano soaring over the CSKA defence to try to head in an Odriozola cross from the right. But the Dominican-born striker incredibly hit the post, the third of the night for Real, summing up what was a very frustrating evening for the reigning European champions.
1.- CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Beçao, Chernov, Nababkin; Vlasic, Bijol, Akhmetov, Oblyakov (Kyrnats, min. 97); Dzagoev (Efremov, min. 65), Chalov (Sigurdsson, min. 78).
0.- Real Madrid: Keylor; Carvajal (Odriozola, min. 43), Varane, Nacho, Reguilón; Casemiro (Modric, min. 58), Kroos, Ceballos, Lucas (Mariano, min. 58); Benzema, Asensio.
Goals: 1-0, min. 2: Vlasic
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan (Romania). Yellow Cards: Bijol (Min. 66) for CSKA Moscow, Akinfeev (Min. 95) for CSKA Moscow, Akinfeev (Min. 95) for CSKA Moscow. Red cards: Akinfeev (Min. 95) for CSKA Moscow