PAOK’s luck freezes up in Moscow
Sergei Ignashevich was in the right place to follow up Vagner Love’s saved penalty and earn CSKA a last-16 berth after PAOK had levelled the tie early in the match.
PAOK left the freezing temperatures of the Russian capital ruing what might have been, having secured a 1-1 draw against CSKA Moskva only to be eliminated from the UEFA Europa League 2-1 on aggregate.
Needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their round of 32 tie, PAOK started well. Although the home side enjoyed the lion's share of possession, it was the visitors who created the more incisive chances, with Vladimir Ivic and Zlatan Muslimovic wasting clear opportunities.
"If you don't take your chances, you are not going to win," said Muslimovic. "We did create a number of opportunities and it was good to do this away from home. We needed victory by at least a goal and even after we went a goal up, we had more chances to increase our lead, but we failed to take them and we were unlucky."
Despite having averaged more than four goals a game in their four home encounters since entering the competition in the play-offs, CSKA found the going difficult against a PAOK team who were content to play on the counterattack.
Indeed, CSKA's Zoran Tosic found the return a more testing assignment than last week's opening instalment in Salonika.
"This was a much better game than the first because PAOK were much better," said the Serbia winger. "We weren't able to control the game like we did in the first leg, but we must be happy that we managed to qualify. Nevertheless, we need to look at our performance, which wasn't great, and cut out the mistakes."
One such unforced error gifted the Greek outfit their goal midway through the second half.
Muslimovic was the scorer, though it was confusion between Vasili Berezutski and substitute keeper Sergei Chepchugov which let in the PAOK striker.
With the game heading for extra time, though, CSKA finally found their stride and regained the initiative when Sergei Ignashevich reacted first to Vagner Love's saved penalty.
"The weather conditions didn't help," added CSKA midfielder Evgeni Aldonin. "It's not easy to play when it's so cold, but thankfully we were able to launch a comeback and that is enough to put us through to the next round." There Leonid Slutski's charges will will face either FC Porto or Sevilla FC, with the Portuguese outfit 2-1 to the good heading into Wednesday's second leg.
CSKA enjoyed the majority of possession before the break, yet despite some neat approach play they were unable to seriously test Kresic.
It was the Greek outfit who created by far the better chances. Vladimir Ivic failed to find the target early on after being put through on goal, while ten minutes before half-time Muslimovic's shot hit the woodwork.
Neither side managed to stamp their authority on the game following the resumption, but the hosts suffered a blow midway through the second period, when Akinfeev was replaced having failed to shake off a knock sustained in an earlier collision with Dimitris Salpingidis.
Sergei Chepchugov replaced the Russian international and his first task was to pick the ball out of his net after a lapse between Vasili Berezutski and the new custodian led to the keeper's clearance hitting Muslimovic and flying into the goal.
The goal stung CSKA into life, and they had the perfect opportunity to regain the lead in the tie from the spot with ten minutes remaining after Zoran Tosic had been clipped by Kresic.
However, while the PAOK No1 seemed to have redeemed himself by saving Vagner Love's effort, Ignashevich was quickest to react to score the all important goal that booked CSKA a last-16 meeting with FC Porto.
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