John Carew handed Aston Villa a UEFA Cup lifeline with a second-half equaliser as they drew 1-1 in the last-32 first-leg clash with CSKA Moscow at Villa Park. The Norway international struck his eighth goal of the campaign after Vagner Love had broken the deadlock.
Martin O’Neill’s men dominated the second 45 minutes but the visitors somehow survived the onslaught. It was a classic confrontation contrasting the technical skills and movement of the Russian side and the more direct but equally threatening approach of Villa.
Vagner Love and Yury Zhirkov always posed a menace for the Villa back four in what was CSKA’s first competitive game since December 4. But Villa deserve massive credit for the way they responded in such positive fashion after going behind.
They dominated the second 45 minutes with Ashley Young a constant threat on the left flank and supplying a stream of dangerous crosses.
Gareth Barry also drove his side on from midfield in typically inspirational fashion while Gabriel Agbonlahor’s pace also gave CSKA a lot to think about.
And, given Villa’s impressive away record in the Barclays Premier League this season, they will still believe they can pull of a positive result in Moscow next Thursday.
Carew told Radio Five:
“European games are very difficult, and we were against a great team, so we can’t be disappointed. It was a good game in the end but the away game will be more difficult, and cold, so we will have to prepare well and believe we can do it, although it would have been good to get the win.”