Igor Akinfeev keeps his first Champions League clean sheet in 11 years

Tom Doyle
REUTERS

Igor Akinfeev ended his 11-year wait for a Champions League clean sheet as CSKA Moscow beat Benfica 2-0 on Wednesday night.

CSKA goalkeeper Akinfeev had not gone a Champions League game without letting in a goal for 43 games - a run which stretched back to 1st November, 2006 against Arsenal - before Wednesday's clash in the Russian capital.

Georgy Shchennikov gave CSKA an early lead, despite an apparent offside. Then an own goal from Jardel ensured Benfica - already eliminated from the competition - slipped to their fifth defeat in five group games, with Akinfeev collecting a rare clean sheet.

The result lifts CSKA into second place in Group A, though Basel can take back the place with a win over Manchester United in Wednesday's later game.

"We played well today, really well organized and good on the counter," CSKA midfielder Alan Dzagoev said.

Under pressure to win because Basel has the edge on head-to-head if they finish equal on points, CSKA started with three up front, including midfielder Pontus Wernbloom as a makeshift forward.

CSKA took the lead in the 13th minute when Bibras Natkho picked up a clearance from the Benfica box and fed it through to Shchennikov, who appeared to be offside. The CSKA left-back scored with a calm finish.

Benfica missed a good chance to hit back almost immediately when Jonas fired a shot wide, while at the other end Dzagoev forced an acrobatic save from Benfica goalkeeper Bruno Varela.

CSKA made it 2-0 in the 56th when a cross by Vitinho was deflected into the net off defender Jardel's thigh.

ucl221117a.jpg, by Tom Doyle

Vitinho missed good chances to score a second, while Akinfeev saved a free-kick by Jonas to prevent a Benfica comeback.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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