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AS Roma vs. CSKA Moscow, 2014 UEFA Champions League: Final score 5-1, Roma start with a bang

Roma marked their return to the Champions League by thrashing CSKA Moscow 5-1.

Paolo Bruno

AS Roma marked their return to the Champions League with a 5-1 thrashing of CSKA Moscow at the Stadio Olimpico. It was a dominant performance from Rudi García's side, who are back in this tournament for the first time since 2011.

It took just six minutes for the Italians to start the rout, with Juan Iturbe slotting home after being threaded through on goal by a simple pass from Gervinho.

The opening goal was the first sign of a chronic offside trap weakness that would continue to haunt the visitors throughout most of the match. Indeed, it revealed itself once again just four minutes later, when Iturbe and Gervinho reversed roles and the latter calmly slipped away and doubled the hosts' advantage.

Roma were in total control, though they should have been punished for their one and only major defensive error of the half on the 15 minute mark. CSKA striker Seydou Doumbia slipped through the giallorossi defence on the counter-attack, and bore down on Morgan De Sanctis' goal. Alas, his touch was too heavy, and he embarrassingly ran straight into the Roma goalkeeper before having time to take a shot.

It would prove to be a costly miss, as Roma netted a third five minutes later. This time it wasn't so much a defensive error as a goalkeeping one, with CSKA's shot-stopper Igor Akinfeev palming Maicon's tight-angled shot weakly into the back of the net.

The Russians' first half misery was compounded just past the half-hour, when a raking pass from Francesco Totti sent Gervinho free down the right flank. He accelerated towards the byline, before cutting back onto his left side and smoothly rolling the ball inside Akinfeev's far post.

If CSKA hoped to use halftime to regroup and bounce back, they were sadly overly optimistic. It took Roma less than six minutes of the second half before they added a fifth, with pressure from Alessandro Florenzi forcing Sergei Ignashevich to head Vasilis Torosidis' deep cross into his own goal.

After the fifth goal, the pace of the game noticeably dropped, and CSKA were allowed more of a stranglehold on proceedings. They almost nicked a consolation through substitute Dmitri Efremov just past the hour, though goalkeeper De Sanctis got down to tip his shot away from danger. They went even closer inside 10 minutes later, though Doumbia's volley bounced back off the crossbar.

Eventually they did pull one back, with Ahmed Musa wriggling through on goal before poking past De Sanctis in the 82nd minute. CSKA very almost netted again within a few minutes, though Georgi Milanov's rocket from the edge of the box bounced off the crossbar and away to safety, and Roma ran out 5-1 winners.

AS Roma: De Sanctis; Torosidis, Astori, Manolas (Yanga-Mbiwa 76'), Maicon; Nainggolan, Keita, Pjanić; Gervinho (Ljajić 71'), Totti, Iturbe (Florenzi 26').

Goals: Iturbe (6'), Gervinho (10', 31'), Maicon (20'), Ignashevich (o.g. 51').

CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev; Fernandes, Ignashevich, Berezutski, Nababkin (Schennikov 46'); Milanov, Natkho; Tošić (Efremov 58'), Eremenko (Panchenko 66'), Musa; Doumbia.

Goals: Musa (82').