Anthony Martial was both hero and villain as Manchester United came from behind to claim a hard-fought 1-1 draw away to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
By Jack Wilkinson
The teenager gifted the hosts the opening goal at the Arena Khimki, needlessly handling in the area and giving a penalty away. David de Gea expertly saved Roman Eremenko’s spot kick but Seydou Doumbia scored the rebound on 15 minutes.
After a subdued opening 45 minutes, United controlled the second half and got a deserved equaliser as Martial headed home Antonio Valencia’s cross on 65 minutes.
United pushed for a winner late on but, with Sunday’s Manchester derby on the horizon, and with CSKA travelling to Old Trafford in a fortnight’s time, a point could prove to be a decent result for Louis van Gaal’s side.
Van Gaal stressed the importance of not letting Sunday’s clash with Manchester City detract from matters in Moscow, yet his decision to hand Jesse Lingard his Champions League debut, in place of Juan Mata, suggested he may have had one eye on the game.
Having controlled the opening exchanges in the Russian capital without threatening a resolute CSKA rearguard, United handed the hosts the chance to open the scoring.
CSKA right-back Mario Fernandes’ flick over Martial was clearly hindered by the Frenchman’s arm, and the referee pointed straight to the spot.
De Gea produced an excellent save to deny Eremenko from 12 yards, but Doumbia reacted faster than the United defence to tap home the rebound in an act which summed up the visitors’ lacklustre first-half display.
Despite United dominating possession, it was the hosts who came close to doubling their lead on 28 minutes when the bright Ahmed Musa broke away from Valencia and attempted to curl an audacious chipped effort over De Gea, which the Spaniard tipped over the bar.
Rooney had glimpses of goal before the break but nothing he would have been expected to convert to move level with Denis Law in United’s all-time scoring charts.
The introduction of Maroune Fellaini after the interval gave the Reds a focal point to which they could start to convert their possession into chances.
Before that, though, they had to survive another claim for a CSKA penalty, as Marcos Rojo failed to head a looping cross away and the ball struck his arm on 53 minutes.
After that the chances began to flow as Rooney, who saw a header well saved by Igor Akinfeev, and Lingard, who was caught offside, came close to levelling proceedings.
But it was Martial who struck the equaliser, atoning for his penalty mishap by peeling back to the penalty spot to head Valencia’s cross beyond Akinfeev via the post
United toiled for a winner but were wary of the threat Doumbia and Musa posed on the counter. Martial tried to turn provider at the death, knocking the ball back for Fellaini, but Akinfeev was on hand to ensure the spoils were shared.
The result leaves United level with CSKA on four points in Group B, behind leaders Wolfsburg who beat PSV Eindhoven 2-0.
Anthony MartialMan United