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Page last updated at 20:50 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Aston Villa 1-1 CSKA Moscow

By Aimee Lewis

Vagner Loge
Vagner Love celebrates scoring his ninth goal in this season's Uefa Cup

John Carew's equaliser for Aston Villa set up a tantalising second-leg Uefa Cup tie against CSKA Moscow after an entertaining match at Villa Park.

The visitors took the lead after the impressive Vagner Love finished a move he had started inside his own half.

Villa improved as the game progressed, with Craig Gardner hitting the crossbar with a header before Carew's leveller.

Ashley Young's cross found Gardner and the midfielder set up Carew, who struck low beyond Igor Akinfeev from 12 yards.

Visiting manager Zico predicted Villa would have "lost some of their power" following their FA Cup exit to Everton at the weekend.

While it took the home side some time to come to terms with the Russians' deft movement and passing, Villa showed no ill-effects from their defeat at Goodison Park.

Indeed, Villa, playing their 41st game of a season that began back in July, were unfortunate not to take a lead into the second leg in Moscow with both Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young missing chances late on.

The two stars on show were undoubtedly Love, who illuminated the first half, and Villa winger Young, whose scintillating pace and menacing crosses caused problems throughout.

Everton manager David Moyes, who has been linked with Love over the last year, was watching from the stands and will undoubtedly have been impressed by the blue-dreadlocked Brazilian.

Whenever the 24-year-old got the ball he seemed to cause panic among the Villa defence.

It was an anxiety that was all the more understandable after Love's superb goal, his ninth in this season's Uefa Cup.

Love, playing up front on his own, went up to the half-way line in search of the ball, danced past Zat Knight, played a quick one-two with Alan Dzagoev and outpaced Luke Young to finish low beyond Brad Guzan's outstretched left hand.

CSKA were playing with the elan of the country's national team that illuminated Euro 2008 last summer, with Dzagoev, Milso Krasic and Yuri Zhirkov providing the creative spark with quick, short passes.

But Villa were not without their chances.

Agbonlahor should have done better from a Young cross but failed to keep his header on target, while, in the 32nd minute, Carew's header hit the roof of the net.

CSKA began the second half in the ascendancy with Love feeding Zhirkov on the left, who shot inches above the bar in the 48th minute.

Gardner nearly levelled in the 52nd minute, but his far-post header, too, hit the crossbar.


Villa took encouragement from that miss and surged forward.

They had a penalty appeal for a handball turned down and Agbonlahor came agonisingly close to connecting with a delightful Ashley Young cross in the 59th minute.

With 20 minutes remaining the equaliser finally came when Ashley Young's left-wing cross whizzed across goal and found Gardner on the other flank.

The England Under-21 international picked out Carew and the Norwegian scored to leave the game evenly poised for the return leg at the Luzhniki Stadium on 26 February.

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:
"They've scored the away goal and you'd think it was all doom and gloom but it's far from it.

"I thought we were terrific, although we defended poorly for Love's goal.

"I thought we deserved to win. We created a great number of chances and played with great spirit."

Aston Villa: Guzan, Luke Young, Davies, Knight, Shorey, Gardner, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Friedel, Bannan, Salifou, Lowry, Albrighton, Harewood, Delfouneso.

Booked : Petrov, Luke Young.

Goals : Carew 69.

CSKA Moscow : Akinfeev, Vasili Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Alexei Berezutsky, Shchennikov, Krasic, Rahimic, Aldonin (Mamaev 90), Zhirkov (Erkin 90), Dzagoev (Daniel Carvalho 80), Vagner Love.
Subs Not Used: Pomazan, Ramon, Ricardo Jesus, Odiah.

Goals : Vagner Love 14.

Att : 38,038.

Ref : Peter Rasmussen (Denmark).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: CSKA Moscow's Vagner Love 7.98 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Wednesday football as it happened
18 Feb 09 |  Football

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