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CSKA Moscow 1-0 Real Madrid: Superb CSKA humble holders in Moscow (PHOTOS)

CSKA Moscow 1-0 Real Madrid: Superb CSKA humble holders in Moscow (PHOTOS)
Russian football celebrated another momentous night in the country's expanding annals of football history as CSKA Moscow toppled UEFA Champions League holders Real Madrid 1-0 in Group G at Luzhniki Stadium on Tuesday.

A mere three months after Russia dumped the mighty Spain out of the World Cup 4-3 on penalties, Igor Akinfeev, captain and shootout hero that fabled night, returned to lead his club side at the same venue and etched another famous night into football folklore.

It was a case of repeat and not revenge, with CSKA the orchestrators of another Russian win over Spain at Luzhniki, courtesy of a sole strike from in-form Croatian striker Nikola Vlasic early on in the game to grab all 3 points and give the capital club their first European win of the season. 

Holders and 13-time European champions Real Madrid are perhaps not the force that steamrolled its way to three Champions League crowns on the spin.

Since recording their third consecutive title Los Blancos have seen Cristiano Ronaldo and mercurial manager Zinedine Zidane depart in the summer. 

Added to that, Julen Lopetegui was forced to travel without experienced players such as captain Sergio Ramos, hero of last year's final Gareth Bale, and Isco.

CSKA manager Viktor Goncharenko had hinted in his post-match presser that now was, considering Real's inhibitions, perhaps the opportune time to face a side who had gone two games without a win or a goal. Lopetegui wryly replied with the remark: "Well CSKA must be happy to play us then."

READ MORE: 'CSKA must be happy to play us then!' - Real Madrid manager Lopetegui responds to 'weak team' jibe

Barely over a minute and a half into the game at Luzhniki and his words seemed prophetic.

An early CSKA push forward and wayward Real pass saw the ball fall to Vlasic, who squeezed his way past Raphael Varane and had what seemed like the area of Red Square to compose himself enough to slot the ball into the bottom right corner of Keylor Navas' goal in front of the home faithful.

CSKA had drawn blood first and early, but faced a long road to see the victory out.

Madrid, bereft of the leadership, vision and distribution of Ramos and Luka Modric, the latter of which started on the bench, seemed without any spark through the spine of their team, and gave away possession uncharacteristically frequently. 

In response, CSKA were first to every lost ball, and could have had a second when Alan Dzagoev showed clever footwork to find current Russian Premier League top scorer Fedor Chalov on the edge of the Real area, who switched instantly onto his left foot to strike, but his shot was blocked. 

In the stands, CSKA fans customarily removed their tops in celebration. Unwise behavior on an October night in Moscow, but when your team is leading against Real Madrid, you can more or less do as you please. 

As the first half wore on, Real began to find something of a rhythm and created their own chances, Lucas Vasquez headed over from a Marco Asensio delivery while full back Dani Carvajal also fired over. Brazilian midfielder Casemiro went closest of all, hitting the post with Akinfeev beaten.

Toni Kroos posed a constant threat from several set pieces, but each time his delivery was either batted away by a CSKA head or a subsequent half chance was snatched at by a teammate.

Despite their best efforts to create chances on goal, captain for the night Karim Benzema, who scored in the last meeting between the two sides in 2012, seemed ultimately isolated up front and CSKA went into the break ahead. 

After the restart CSKA looked nothing like letting go of their lead, beginning with much of the buoyancy shown in the first 45. Even when the record Champions League winners introduced Modric, making his return to Luzhniki since captaining Croatia in the World Cup final, momentum still swayed CSKA's way. 

Although Real made their best efforts to force an equalizer, nothing seemed to fall their way. When Mariano, another substitute, hit the bar with a header and blazed over from close range, the feeling was it wouldn't be Real's night. 

In second half stoppage time, Igor Akinfeev was sent off in bizarre fashion, being shown two straight yellow cards one after the other for dissent. The referee chose to caution the CSKA skipper and when the stopper refused to calm himself, was shown a further yellow seconds later. 

Despite the late drama, Real still couldn't find a way through and the seconds seeped away. When the referee blew for full time, cheers rang around the famous stadium, a truly historic night for Russian football, bringing the Madrid footballing dynasty to its knees in the capital, just months after halting its national team on the same turf.

The result meant Real have now won just two matches from nine in Russia in European competition. CSKA pick up their first win of the tournament after an opening round draw, and now sit top of Group G on four points, ahead of Real on three. 

By Danny Armstrong at Luzhniki Stadium

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