We're through! Bayer 04 have reached the Champions League Round of 16 – with one game to play and for the seventh time in eleven seasons in the competition. The Werkself, who drew 1-1 in the penultimate group match at CSKA Moscow, benefited from the later match involving the other two teams in the group: AS Monaco beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. That means the Werkself are guaranteed to finish second in Group E.
Roger Schmidt made a number of changes to the line-up that faced RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga at the weekend: Tin Jedvaj replaced Wendell in defence on the right side of the back four and Benjamin Henrichs moved to left back. Kevin Volland and Chicharito started with Julian Baumgartlinger and Admir Mehmedi on the subs bench.
Leno saves twice from Golovin
The Werkself started brightly in the early kick-off on Tuesday night as they endeavoured to put pressure on the CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev from the kick-off. However, the first clear-cut chance of the game fell to the hosts with Aleksandr Golovin ending a counter-attack with a one-on-one with the Bayer 04 keeper Bernd Leno. Fortunately for the Werkself the Russian was unable to control the ball and Leno was able to make the save.
The Schmidt eleven then took control of proceedings with a prevailing temperature of minus seven on a heavily worn pitch at the CSKA Arena. Hakan Calhanoglu fired the first warning shot on eight minutes with an effort that went just wide of the far post from a tight angle. The Werkself increasingly encamped in the Russian first division side’s half but the pressing opened up space for the Moscow team. And that gave them another chance on goal after winning the ball in midfield - Leno again showed his ability in goal to prevent Golovin putting the hosts in the lead on 11 minutes.
Volland’s first goal, Chicharito denied penalty
Kevin Volland opened the scoring on 15 minutes with his first goal in the Champions League. Charles Aránguiz played a free kick square to Kevin Kampl and put the ball into the box for Volland to run onto. The 24-year-old made it 1-0 for the Werkself from close range – it was the 50th away goal for Bayer 04 in Europe’s elite club competition.
The Werkself continued to dominate the game up to the half-time break. Chicharito missed the chance to double the lead on 18 minutes. His run down the right ended with him attempting a shot on goal from just inside the box. However, the Mexican ended up on the deck sandwiched between three CSKA players. The Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco decided the challenge was fair and no penalty was awarded – an arguable decision. The Werkself continued to play on the front foot but the Moscow team’s defence stood firm.
Alan Dzagoev had a chance to level on the half-hour mark with a shot on the turn from 12 yards out but his effort went over the bar. Shortly after that, the Werkself had the ball in the back of the CSKA net again following a free kick from the right but it was chalked off as Chicharito was offside. The two teams went into the break with Bayer 04 1-0 up.
CSKA fight back
It was certainly a game of two halves. CSKA Moscow pressed forward in search of an equaliser after the restart and they succeeded in pressing the Werkself back into their own half as the game went on. The Werkself struggled and found it difficult to withstand the pressure as the attacks from the hosts mounted. Driven on by Alan Dzagoev and Bibras Natcha, the Russians created chances but Leno was in fine form as he kept out Dzagoev (61’), Fedor Chalov (65’) and Golovin (70’).
But his luck did eventually run out: A ball into the Bayer 04 penalty area saw Henrichs catch Mario Fernandes with his boot as he attempted to clear the lines – Undiano Mallenco awarded a penalty. Despite Leno going the right way he was unable to save the spot kick taken by Natcha and CSKA were level on 76 minutes.
Volland hits the woodwork
The hosts continued to press forward in search of a second goal. Volland then had a chance to restore the lead when he received the ball from substitute Kai Havertz but his shot from 12 yards out on 80 minutes rebounded off the upright. The Werkself produced a solid team performance and succeeded in holding on to the 1-1 draw – and given the difficult conditions in Moscow – they were not unhappy with taking one point from the game.
Three hours later – with the final result from Monaco – progress to the knockout rounds was done and dusted. Regardless of the outcome of the last matchday, the first two places in Group E are certain: Monaco (currently on eleven points) are the group winners and Bayer 04 (seven) will finish second. The game between the two teams on 7 December (20.45 CET) at the BayArena is now a dead rubber. That is in sharp contrast to the other match where Tottenham Hotspur (four) and CSKA Moscow (three) will be fighting for a place in the Europa League.
CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev - Mario Fernandez, A. Berezutski, V. Berezutski, Schennikov - Wernbloom, Dzagoev (Traoré 82’) - Milanov, Natcho, Golovin - Chalov (Strandberg 90’)
Bayer 04: Leno - Jedvaj, Tah, Toprak, Henrichs - Aránguiz, Kampl (Mehmedi 90’) - Calhanoglu, Brandt (Havertz 70’) - Volland, Chicharito (Baumgartlinger 81’)
Goals: 0-1 Volland (15’), 1-1 Natcho (76’ pen.)
Booked: Akinfeev, Wernbloom - Henrichs, Kampl, Chicharito
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)
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