Wernbloom’s heroics put Real Madrid on edge

Wernbloom's heroics put Real Madrid on edge
An injury-time goal on his debut by Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom grabbed CSKA Moscow a 1-1 draw with Spanish giants Real Madrid here on Tuesday in their Champions League Last 16 first leg match.

A goal from Real’s Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in the 28th minute put the nine-time European champions ahead and they looked set for their seventh successive win in this season’s competition until Wernbloom blasted the ball home.

“It’s a dream fulfilled,” a boyant Wernbloom told Viasat television following the match, hinting that the storied Madrid club has has always been one of his favourites.

“You hope to play there, but that you realize that’s not going to happen.”

The 25-year-old Swede only just joined CSKA in January after an injury-plagued stint with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar that started in 2009.

“We conceded a goal to a schoolboy’s defensive mistake in the first-half and it cost us a goal,” CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said.

“But late in the second half we put more attacking players onto the pitch and levelled the scores.

“In general we played good in defence, while in attack we created several chances. Luckily, we managed to convert one of them. Real of course remain the favourites but now I start to believe that everything is possible.”

Real coach Jose Mourinho meanwhile expressed his satisfaction with the result despite the fact that his men missed out on victory.

“Anyway it is a good result for us in the away match,” Mourinho said.

But the return match we will have no other choice but to win.

“CSKA are difficult opponents and tonight it was a difficult match. But they created few chances tonight, while we missed a pile of opportunities to increase our lead after the break.

“In Madrid the weather conditions and the pitch will be completely different but anyway I expect a tough battle there also.”

The hosts, supported by a 63,000 home crowd, started in lively fashion probing for weaknesses in the Real defence and created the first chance in the seventh minute.

However, Alan Dzagoev’s shot from eight metres went wide and was the hosts’ only opportunity in the first-half.

Real replied with a long-range shot by Karim Benzema, which also went wide forcing Jose Mourinho into an early substitution as the Frenchman pulled a muscle and was replaced by Gonzalo Higuain in the 16th minute.

CSKA ‘keeper Sergei Chepchugov pulled off a great double save a minute later as first he beat away a Higuain effort and was able to get back up and deflect for a corner Sami Khedira’s follow-up.

However, he was unable to prevent Ronaldo from opening the scoring, as he drilled home from inside the area after Zoran Tosic failed to clear Fabio Coentrao’s cross from the left.

CSKA, who have never lost to a Spanish team before in European competition, poured forward seeking an equaliser but the visitors defence was solid and repelled the hosts attacks.

After the interval CSKA continued testing the visitors defence but failed again to create any serious threat to Iker Casillas lacking accuracy in the decisive moments.

Meanwhile Real, who were relying on rapid and dangerous counter-attacks missed a host of chances to increase their lead before the one-hour mark.

CSKA, who were lacking match practice as the Russian league is on the winter break, nevertheless showed strong character trying hard to pull the scores level but Real looked comfortable.

In the 82nd minute the hosts missed a chance to level as Casillas produced a diving save to prevent CSKA midfielder Keisuke Honda’s freekick ending up in the net.

But in the third minute of injury time Wernbloom had the CSKA fans on their feet as he sent tha ball into the net from six yards, converting an Alexei Berezutsky cross from the left.

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