With his CSKA Moscow team held to a late draw, Igor Akinfeev may just have been the unluckiest man in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The CSKA goalkeeper was trying to rid himself of an unwanted record – now standing at 10 years and 40 games without a Champions League clean sheet – and produced some spectacular saves against Monaco. But Akinfeev was left enraged as defensive errors helped Monaco to rescue a 1-1 draw.
Bernardo Silva was the man to dash Akinfeev’s hopes, darting in to score in the 87th minute off a loose ball, the result of an acrobatic one-handed save by Akinfeev. CSKA’s veteran center-back pair was partly at fault, being slow to react as Monaco threatened.
The draw followed an unusually enterprising game from CSKA, which often favors a defense-first approach in Europe. The hosts put heavy pressure on Monaco for much of the first half before tiring late on.
“We gave away the initiative and Monaco took it,” CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said. “When you’re defending so much, those mistakes creep in. It’s a real shame that we couldn’t hold on.”
In a game between the Russian champion and Russian-owned Monaco, CSKA had been heading for victory thanks to a first-half goal from Ivorian striker Lacina Traore, who is himself on loan from Monaco.
Unwanted on the Cote d’Azur this summer after a poor season in Ligue 1, Traore stabbed the ball into the net in the 34th minute after Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic parried Zoran Tosic’s shot. Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said Traore was “more motivated” to show Monaco what he could do.
Still missing star striker Radamel Falcao, who is out with concussion, Monaco only sporadically tested CSKA’s tiring defense in the second half on a cold night in the Russian capital but surged late on to claim a draw through Silva’s goal.
The draw leaves Monaco top of Group E on five points, while CSKA is last and in danger of finishing bottom of its Champions League group for the fourth season in a row.
Tottenham drew 0-0 at Bayer Leverkusen and is second with four points.