Thu, Mar 18, 2010 - Page 18 News List

Honda power fires CSKA into quarter-finals

OVER AND OUT Leonid Slutsky’s team broke Sevilla fans’ hearts as their side chased their first-ever appearance in the last eight of the Champions League

REUTERS AND AP , SEVILLE, SPAIN

Sevilla midfielder Diego Perotti, center, vies for the ball with CSKA Moscow’s Evgeni Aldonin, left, and Sergei Ignashevich during their UEFA Champions League match on Tuesday at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville, Spain.

PHOTO: AFP

A well-struck free kick from Keisuke Honda gave CSKA Moscow a surprise 2-1 win at Sevilla on Tuesday to send the Russians into the Champions League quarter-­finals for the first time in 17 years.

After a 1-1 draw in Moscow, goals from CSKA’s Tomas Necid and Sevilla’s Diego Perotti had the sides tied at 2-2 on aggregate at the break before Honda’s 55th-minute strike flew in off Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop.

A surprise victory for the Muscovites put them into the last eight for the first time since the 1992 to 1993 season and ended Sevilla’s hopes of making their debut in the last eight.

“The players did very well to stop Sevilla getting many clear chances,” CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky told a news conference.

“It’s hard to analyze the match much at this early stage but I am very proud that my team has made it through to the quarters,” he said.

Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano squandered a chance to put the home side ahead in only the third minute at a noisy Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.

The Brazilian international collected a whipped Jesus Navas cross from the right, but hit his first-time shot straight at CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev.

The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages and lively Japan midfielder Honda forced a smart save from Palop in the 27th minute.

Six minutes before the break, a mistake by Serbian defender Ivica Dragutinovic let Necid in who rifled a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.

Sevilla were level within two minutes. A long Palop punt bounced through to Navas and he crossed for Perotti to poke the ball past Akinfeyev.

Honda’s winner came from a long-range free kick, which Palop failed to deal with as the ball ricocheted into the top corner off the keeper’s fists.

Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez threw on Alvaro Negredo to join fellow strikers Frederic Kanoute and Fabiano, but CSKA held firm against some desperate attacking in the final stages as the disconsolate home fans drifted away.

“This result is disastrous and all we can do is say sorry to the fans. We had a lot of hopes pinned on this game,” Jimenez said. “I’m the one who’s responsible.”

“It wasn’t to be, they played better than us,” said Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido. “Our team was too tensed up.”

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