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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Julen Lopetegui rues Real Madrid profligacy after shock defeat at CSKA Moscow

An early goal from Nikola Vlasic proved the difference at the Luzhniki stadium on Tuesday night

Nikola Vlasic, right, celebrates after scoring CSKA Msocow's decisive goal against Real Madrid. Reuters
Nikola Vlasic, right, celebrates after scoring CSKA Msocow's decisive goal against Real Madrid. Reuters

Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui bemoaned his side's wastefulness after the European champions slumped to a surprise 1-0 Uefa Champions League defeat to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

Madrid arrived in the Russian capital struggling for form and the defeat to CSKA - courtesy of a second minute strike by on-loan Croatian winger Nikola Vlasic - means they have not won or even scored a goal in their past three games.

A brilliant victory for the Russian side, however, was marred in the final stages of a highly charged encounter in the Luzhniki stadium when CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was sent off for a second yellow card seconds before the final whistle.

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CSKA got off to a brisk start and opened the scoring when Vlasic, on loan from Premier League side Everton, latched on to Toni Kroos's poor backpass and slotted home.

It was Vlasic's second goal in as many games in this season's Champions League.

The result continued a dismal streak for Madrid, who have won only two of their past five games in all competitions and Lopetegui rued a string of missed opportunities.

"Of course, [they] played at home and the quick goal helped them, but we didn't take our chances," he told reporters.

"We need to create scoring chances, I'm sure that sooner or later we will start scoring."

Lopetegui decided to start with Fifa Player of the Year Luka Modric on the bench, while other first-team regulars, such as Wales forward Gareth Bale and Spanish centre back Sergio Ramos, were also absent. Brazil fullback Marcelo and midfielder Isco were ruled out before the game.

Madrid, who have won the past three Champions League titles, suffered another injury worry before half-time when Dani Carvajal was replaced by Alvaro Odriozola.

Madrid mounted wave upon wave of attacks, and wasted several chances in the first half.

Casemiro could have levelled for the visitors midway through the opening period, but his low shot from outside the penalty area bounced off the post, while Karim Benzema's header hit the bar five minutes before the interval.

Modric came on in the second half for Casemiro, but the 33-year-old Croatia midfielder could not turn the match in Real's favour.

CSKA manager Viktor Goncharenko heaped praise on a "magnificent" Vlasic and CSKA's defence. At the same time he was apprehensive over a possible ban for Akinfeev following his red card.

"He is a half of our whole team," he said.

CSKA top Group G on four points, one clear of Roma in second after the Italian side thrashed Viktoria Plzen 5-0. Madrid occupy third and next face Plzen at the Bernabeu on October 23.