A Toni Kroos error early in the game proved to be the difference as CSKA Moscow stunned Champions League holders Real Madrid at VEB Arena on Tuesday.
The hosts grabbed a foothold in the game less than two minutes into the game, as Nikola Vlasic pounced on a uncharacteristically misplaced backpass by Toni Kroos before slotting the ball past Keylor Navas. Having taken the lead, Viktor Goncharenko instructed his side to defend in numbers and defend the slim lead.
The gameplan worked to perfection as Real Madrid struggled to conjure up meaningful chances, with as many as 20 shots being off target as well. As full-time approached the Champions League holders amped up the pressure, but their luck deserted them as well, as Mariano Diaz struck the woodwork late into the game.
There was some drama in store in the final minute of the game as Raphael Varane headed wide from point blank range before Igor Akinfeev was shockingly sent off for dissent. In the end though, CSKA Moscow held on for a famous win over Real Madrid, who now have very little room for error in the group stage games to come.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) October 2, 2018
The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Julen Lopetegui’s men after they failed to find the back of the net for the third successive game.
Keylor Navas: 6/10
After being left shell shocked in the second minute for a goal he could have done very little to stop, it ended up being a quiet night for Navas, with CSKA Moscow camping in their own half. He was tested on one occasion, and the experienced goalkeeper was equal to it.
Dani Carvajal: 5.5/10
A frustrating night for Carvajal, as his performance was not up to the mark on either end of the pitch. To make matters worse, an injury ended his outing prematurely, as Alvaro Odriozola replaced him just before half-time.
Raphael Varane: 5/10
Beaten rather easily for CSKA Moscow’s goal, although that can also be attributed partly to Toni Kroos selling him short with a horrible back pass. Thereafter, the Frenchman wasn’t tested much, and he saw more action on the other end of the pitch. Should have done better with the final chance of the game as he headed wide from point blank range.
The best defender on the night for Real Madrid, Nacho had occasional nervy moments across a largely assured performance. Nothing much to do after the visitors conceded, and he wasn’t involved all that much in the opposition box either.
Sergio Reguilon: 5.5/10
It was a dream come true for Sergio Reguilon, as he made his debut for Real Madrid on the biggest stage. But, this outing turned out to be a trial by fire as even though he wasn’t tested much at the back, the young full-back failed to make the desired impact in the final third. Did create a chance for Benzema, but he still has a lot to learn from Marcelo.
Dani Ceballos: 5/10
Given a chance to impress from the start after a solid cameo against Atletico Madrid this past weekend, Ceballos had the opportunity to stake claim for a role as a regular. But, the young Spaniard showed that he still has a long way to go, having gone anonymous for large parts of the game while only showing flashes of his brilliant best. Needs to be much more consistent.
Another forgettable outing for Casemiro, who just hasn’t got going this season. The Brazilian was sloppy on the ball, losing possession on two occasions that saw CSKA Moscow produce quick turnovers to test the nervy Real Madrid defence. Came close to scoring from a long-range effort, but that was as good as it got on a tough night. Rightly taken off for Modric with over half an hour left.
Toni Kroos: 4/10
Kroos made a telling impact in the game, albeit not the kind that he is revered for. In just the second minute of the game, the German mastermind played a casual backpass that caught Varane unaware, with Nikola Vlasic opportunistically banking on the error.
Thereafter, Kroos did pull the strings in the middle of the park. But, the incisiveness was missing from his balls as Real Madrid struggled to get back into the game against a disciplined CSKA Moscow defence. A rare failure, but a failure that could come back to haunt the Champions League holders as well.
Lucas Vazquez: 4/10
Handed his first start of the season, Lucas Vazquez had the opportunity to show Lopetegui why he might deserve more chances. But, while the Spaniard ran his socks off, it was a listless performance, producing nothing of note in 58 minutes on the pitch. His replacement, Mariano Diaz threatened more in half the time.
Karim Benzema: 4/10
The early season flourish is starting to look like a false dawn for Karim Benzema, with the horrors of the last two seasons visible once again. The Frenchman now has no shot on target in his last six games, and a header against the woodwork is not enough for someone who was supposed to lead from the front.
Benzema needs to find his scoring boots once again. Otherwise, it could be a long season, not just for him but also for Real Madrid, who need to fill Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals.
Marco Asensio: 4/10
With Bale out injured, Asensio needed to shoulder more responsibility, especially with Real Madrid having it all to do after the first two minutes. But, his end product was nowhere to be seen while his decision making left a lot to be desired as well. Has petered out a little after a blistering start to the season.
Alvaro Odriozola: 6/10
On for the injured Carvajal, Odriozola made his first Champions League appearance for Real Madrid. And, while his end product wasn’t always at a desirable level, the young Spaniard did improve as he notched up the minutes. A fine option if Carvajal is to be on the sidelines for a considerable period.
Luka Modric: 5/10
Surprisingly named on the bench, Modric made a belated appearance in the game, as Lopetegui threw him on to produce the cutting edge pass in the final third. But, there was class to be seen from the Croat, who made no difference to the proceedings whatsoever.
Mariano Diaz: 6/10
On for the ineffective Lucas Vazquez, Mariano made a point even though he couldn’t produce the equaliser for Real Madrid. He could well have, if not for the woodwork as his header clattered against the crossbar. Nevertheless, the summer signing has proved that he needs to be given more minutes.