Brilliant to see that Luke was able to retain his key players for the rest of the season. Alan's return will only help improve the squad, also.
Nikola Vlasic celebrates his second goal in his team's 4-1 victory over Gent.
Russian side CSKA Moscow, will play Inter Milan in the second knockout round of the Europa League, having beaten Gent 5-2 on aggregate in the First Knockout Round earlier this week.
Breezing past Belgian side KAA Gent, has seen Luke Hendrick’s team drawn against Italian giants Inter Milan in the next stage of the Europa League. Having drawn the first leg away to Gent 1-1, courtesy of Lucas Santos, his first goal since making his loan move permanent, CSKA knew a goalless draw would be enough to qualify for the next round.
However, that wasn’t an option it seemed, for a team who was playing just their second competitive fixture in almost three months. Arnór Sigurðsson gave his team the early lead just nine minutes into the game, continuing his incredible form from the first half of the season. Then Nikola Vlasic, who had scored just one goal in all competitions before the game, added the team's second two minutes later. It was three with just thirteen minutes on the clock, once again Vlasic doing the damage.
In a theme of CSKA since the arrival of Luke Hendricks as manager, the Russian side controlled the game, keeping 59% of possession throughout the game. Currently ranking top of the Russian Premier League for average possession, and 5th in the Europa League for that same stat, it was clear, the Moscow based outfit weren’t going to get complacent despite their lead. But it didn’t mean Gent had given up, and had it not been for an incredible Ivan Oblyakov tackle eight yards out, Gent very likely would have pulled one back on the twentieth minute.
Gent did get their goal three minutes after the halftime break, with Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe giving his side the slimmest amount of hope. That hope was dashed when Oblyakov killed the game off with five minutes to go with a long rage effort.
It was a performance to be proud of for CSKA Moscow, who were missing a number of key players across the two legs. Both Mário Fernandes and Georgy Schennikov missed both legs with a virus and twisted ankle respectively. Whilst Fedor Chalov missed the second leg due to a groin strain. Chalov is expected to miss up to six weeks of action due to his injury and therefore is likely to miss the tie with Inter Milan, a massive blow for Luke Hendricks team.
But Hendricks wasn’t to be downbeat and praised his much changed side following the game.
“I’m pleased, very pleased. We had a number of players missing across both legs and had to move some players into unfamiliar positions. Chancel (Mbemba) played at right back in both games, something he isn’t usually required to do, but he was brilliant. Nikola (Vlasic) played very well today and he can hopefully keep that up. Whilst a special mention needs to go to Ivan Oblyakov. If he hadn’t made that tackle, despite being 3-0 up at that point, the game could have changed very quickly. Overall I am delighted with our two performances, especially with the time off we had between now and our last competitive game.”
CSKA Moscow’s ‘pleasing performance’ see’s them drawn against Serie A side, Inter Milan, who overcame Stade Rennais 5-1 on aggregate in their First Round Knockout tie. Having finished third in their Champions League Group, containing Atlético de Madrid (who topped the group) PSG and Genk, Inter were placed into the Europa League.
Led by an attack of Romelu Lukaku, who left Manchester United in the summer, and Lautaro Martínez, CSKA will have a lot on their hands. The Serie A, top two goal scorers, with Lukaku tied for first spot with Cristiano Ronaldo, are backed up by a strong defense. Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Diego Godín will prove very tough to pass for an already weakened CSKA attack.
A battle against Antonio Conte will be one that Luke Hendricks looks forward to but first he will need to focus on a top two battle with current Russian Premier League leaders, Spartak Moscow, as they host their local rivals in just over a weeks time.
Scott:A good window overall for CSKA in my opinion.