Manchester City were given all they could handle by CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, but came away from Russia with three points thanks to a bit of luck and a brilliant late save by Joe Hart. His stoppage time heroics helped City hold on to a much needed 2-1 victory.
A tight game was blown wide-open by Zoran Tosic and Keisuke Honda, who scored the game's opening goal out of nothing in the 32nd minute. Honda won a 50-50 aerial challenge with defensive midfielder-turned-central defender Javi Garcia, nodding on what turned out to be a perfect pass. Tosic started an attacking run before the ball reached his teammate and found himself one-on-one with Hart off the header. Hart came off his line and stood up tall, but Tosic was able to beat him with an impressive early chip.
CSKA's defense was caught celebrating and conceded an equalizer less than two minutes later. Sergei Ignashevich failed to do anything but get a slight touch on a low David Silva cross that he should have been able to clear, leaving Sergio Aguero with a chance to clean up the garbage and finish past Igor Akinfeev from the edge of the six-yard box.
Aguero struck again in the 42nd minute, giving City the lead at the break. Silva had a part in the goal again, playing a pass into the box for Alvaro Negredo. He turnedand chipped towards the center of the box, where Aguero got on the end of the ball and directed a perfect diving header into the side netting.
While CSKA had the better chances in the second half, they never found an equalizer, and they were unlucky not to do so. In the 50th minute, Seydou Doumbia appealed for a penalty after going down under a challenge by Garcia, but the referee waived play on after consulting with his assistant. Ahmed Musa appeared to fire his team back into the game with a stunning volley that beat Hart from 20 yards in the 80th minute, but the play was blown dead because of a high boot by Pontus Wernbloom on Yaya Toure.
The hosts assaulted the City penalty area from then until stoppage time and thought they had a point through Honda, but Hart came to the rescue. He made an absolutely brilliant point blank save to preserve his team's win on one of the last kicks of the match, helping City take a comfortable grip on second place in Group D.
CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev, Shennikov, Ignashevich, V. Berezutsky (A. Berezutsky 6'), Nababkin, Wernbloom, Zuber (Musa 50'), Milanov, Tosic, Honda, Doumbia
Goals: Tosic (32')
Manchester City: Hart, Kolarov, Garcia, Nastasic, Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva (Nasri 79'), Aguero (Clichy 89'), Navas, Negredo (Dzeko 72')
Goals: Aguero (34', 42')