For Manchester United, a night to believe that the success this place once became so accustomed to is beckoning again, after four bleak years.
Champions League knock-out territory is theirs once more – 1,336 days after defeat to Bayern Munich in the dying stages of the David Moyes era bundled them out of it so ignominiously.
Though a substantially greater challenge than this lies in wait there, their match-turning goals – scored in 65 sublime seconds just beyond the hour – extend their unbeaten run here to 40 games. Not since the Matt Busby days of the mid 1960s have they matched that.
Vitinho’s effort at the end of the first half hit the unaware Alan Dzagoev in the back to hand CSKA Moscow a shock lead
Manchester United got themselves level when a brilliant floated ball by Paul Pogba was turned in by Romelu Lukaku
Two minutes later United led when Marcus Rashford slotted in left footed from an angle to end his recent goal drought
FULL MATCH FACTS AND EXCLUSIVE MATCH ZONE
Manchester United (5-3-2): Romero 6.5; Valencia 6.5 (Tuanzebe 72, 6), Lindelof 6.5, Smalling 6.5, Blind 6, Shaw 7; Herrera 6 (McTominay 67, 6), Pogba 8, Mata 6; Rashford 7, Lukaku 7.5 (Martial 74, 6)
Subs not used: Pereira, Lingard, Young, Darmian
Goals: Lukaku 64, Rashford 66
Booking: McTominay 73
Manager: Jose Mourinho 7
CSKA Moscow (3-4-3): Akinfeev 6; V Berezutski 6.5, Ignashevich 6, Vasin 6; Fernandes 7, Golovin 6.5, Kuchaev 6, Nababkin 6 (Khosonov 90); Vitinho 6.5 (Zhamaletdinov 82), Chalov 6.5 (Gordyushenko 65, 6), Dzagoev 6.5
Subs not used: Pomazun, Makarov, Olanere
Goal: Vitinho 45
Booking: Berezutski 57
Manager: Viktor Goncharenko 6
Ref: Gianluca Rocchi 7
While CSKA’s goal was controversial. it did come about through a classy team move down the right wing. For more facts and stats, visit our exclusive MATCH ZONE service by clicking here.
Dzagoev deflected a Vitinho shot into the Manchester United net from a seemingly offside position but the goal stood
Man United claim offside – confusion seemed to come from Daley Blind being off the pitch; legally he played Dzagoev onside
Ander Herrera runs to the referee to complain about the goal, which went through two scorers and a number of explanations
Juan Mata complains to referee Gianluca Rocchi about the goal, however United were made to pay for their profligacy
CSKA celebrate the goal, which was awarded to Vitinho by UEFA despite the fact it clearly struck a team mate on its way in
ALSO IN GROUP A
Basel advanced to the Champions League knockout rounds by beating Benfica 2-0 on Tuesday.
Norwegian forward Mohamed Elyounoussi headed in a cross from Michael Lang five minutes in.
In the second half, forward Dimitri Oberlin doubled the lead by netting a header from close range to send the Swiss side to the knockout phase for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
The Swiss champions finish second in Group A, three points behind Manchester United.
Benfica completed a poor campaign without a single point and only a single goal scored.
Briefly, there had been doubt, when the Russian side scored on an extremely rare incursion into home turf, but the turnaround, just beyond the hour, was clinical and quite beautiful in its execution.
A clipped left-foot shoot towards the six-yard box from Paul Pogba which Romelu Lukaku volleyed cleanly into the net, and a lofted left-foot ball from Juan Mata which bounced once before Marcus Rashford buried it, with his left foot, in the right hand corner of the net.
The muted celebrations belonged to a side affronted to have fallen behind in the first place but who needed this momentum ahead of the exacting test which Manchester City will pose them here on Sunday. The wins sees them top their group, with five wins from six.
It was symptomatic of the lifeless atmosphere that someone forgot to play the Champions League anthem in an half-empty stadium before kick-off, though what ensued was an opening 45 minutes full of life.
No-one displayed more of it than Luke Shaw, making only his 50th appearance since his much-vaunted arrival from Southampton at a time – three years ago – when United thought their return as a competitive force would be far less difficult than it has.
If one moment encapsulated what Shaw brought in that period then it was the sight of him making up a yard to ground to catch an advancing Vitinho and put the ball out of play in the closing stages. He moved ahead at pace, too, and was one of Mourinho’s early attacking threats – volleying an Antonio Valencia cross shot that Igor Akinfeev smartly saved on 20 minutes.
United were the dominant side and with 25 minutes remaining finally got their goal when Lukaku poked home a lofted ball
Lukaku immediately grabbed the ball from the net and ran back after scoring – less than two minutes later, United were ahead
Rashford finished off a good team move involving Mata and Pogba as United finally broke down the CSKA resistance
Rashford celebrates his goal which brought to an end a lean goal scoring period of late for the young England international
The worry for United ahead of Sunday’s date with destiny against Manchester City was the struggle of those who employed to finish these chances. Marcus Rashford, who hadn’t scored in nine games, experienced the luck of an individual desperate to break such a sequence when he ran onto Romelu Lukaku’s return pass but sent it left-footed against the base of the post.
Lukaku, who has scored one goal in 12, wanted three bounces of the ball before putting his foot through it when Paul Pogba had sent him, which was enough time for Akinfeev to ready himself and save. Mourinho’s theatrical applause for the forward was a sign that he feels the Belgian needs love.
United came to rue the profligacy when the Russians – who had offered very little – conjured a highly controversial goal on the stroke of half time. Shaw erred for the first time, being drawn towards the ball and allowing Mario Fernandes to escape down the right flank and cross.
Fedor Chalov missed his shot but Vitinho’s strike cannoned in Alan Dzagoev’s back. United insisted the forward was offside though Daley Blind, who had stumbled out of play, appeared to be technically still ‘active’, playing him on. Uefa awarded Vitinho the goal.
Luke Shaw was handed his first Manchester United start in 219 days as the left back aims to impress Jose Mourinho
Shaw, whose fitness has often been questioned, impressed in the first half with attacking runs from left back
Rashford takes on a CSKA Moscow defender as United dominated the first half but somehow conceded first
Rashford had one of the clearest opportunities in the first half for United, but saw his low effort rebound off the post and away
It was a fair decision. FIFA rules state that a ‘defending player’ – Blind – who leaves the field ‘without the referee’s permission’ is deemed to be ‘on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play.’
The Russians did not look like adding to their lead and United could have been on level terms within minutes of the re-start when Mata sent a ball across the Russian area which Chris Smalling could not convert. The goals came soon later and Pogba’s contribution to the first of them was part of a virtuoso display, before he disappeared to serve his three-game suspension.
United might not be the most naturally creative side within these shores but they have rediscovered that capacity to get the job done. They will be a good side to avoid, come next spring.
Lukaku attempts an acrobatic effort on goal, however he found all his first half opportunities denied by CSKA
Igor Akinfeev gathers the ball – one of several good saves he made during the game – while Paul Pogba looks disappointed
United continued to pile the pressure on the CSKA goal after the interval, Chris Smalling missing a header from a cross
Jose Mourinho’s side needed only a draw to win the group and to avoid a heavy defeat to reach the Champions League last 16