CSKA send Villa packing
Aston Villa paid a heavy price for sending out a second-string team against CSKA Moscow, tumbling out of the UEFA Cup in a 2-0 defeat. Villa coach Martin O'Neill, with one eye on qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League, made eight changes to his side and CSKA, three-time Russian champions, took full advantage to carve out a 3-1 aggregate win and reach the last 16.
Russian international winger Yury Zhirkov netted the opening goal, while Brazilian striker Vagner Love added an injury-time strike. Villa, European champions in 1982, struggled both with their inexperienced line-up as well as the artificial pitch of Moscow's Luzhniki stadium. CSKA, the 2005 UEFA Cup champions, almost fell behind just after the break when Craig Gardner missed a good chance from close range, placing his effort meekly into goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev's hands.
CSKA's Serbian star Milos Krasic then had an attempt easily saved by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan. In the 55th minute, Guzan parried away a Zhirkov shot from just inside the box after he had escaped on a breakaway. But just before the hour mark, Zhirkov found the target after teammate Alan Dzagoev had fed through a short cross. Love deservedly added a second in injury-time as Villa poured forward.