CSKA Moscow coach Viktor Goncharenko was delighted after goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev finally kept a clean sheet in the Champions League.
Although the Russia international had collected a shutout in qualifying, his clean sheet in a 2-0 victory over Benfica on Wednesday was his first in 44 appearances in the Champions League proper.
Akinfeev was scarcely tested against a poor Benfica side who are now eliminated from Europe entirely, while CSKA’s hopes are alive – although Basel’s shock 1-0 defeat of Manchester United sees them sit third in Group A.
But Goncharenko was thrilled Akinfeev was able to break one of the most unwanted records in European football.
“Of course, we congratulated him after the match,” said Goncharenko.
“All of the lads tried their best in the last part of the game to close any gaps and make sure Igor kept that clean sheet.
“We all wanted to break this sequence, Igor – most of all. His career and his high class, he did not deserve this run.
“It was one of the best matches we’ve played in terms of quality. We didn’t allow Benfica to do much, we were controlling the game and definitely deserved to win.”
Rui Vitória: “There’s life beyond the Champions League. We will now focus on the competitions we’re still in and we’ll try to win them.”
— SL Benfica EN (@slbenfica_en) November 22, 2017
Georgy Schennikov’s first-half strike and a Jardel own goal consigned Benfica to their fifth defeat out of five Group A matches and coach Rui Vitoria was left to rue another poor European display from his side.
“We conceded a goal and right after it we could have equalised through Jonas,” Vitoria said.
“Then, the second goal was very bizarre and we were 2-0 down. This was a big blow for us and CSKA were allowed to play comfortably. In fact, it didn’t go the way we wanted but now there’s nothing we can do.
“Our value is not seen in the table. Things went wrong from the beginning because in the first match we should have won and it didn’t happen.
“All the small details were against us but there’s life after this competition. We have done very well in this competition over the last two years, reaching the knockout stages, but this season it wasn’t to be.”
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