Manchester City’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League suffered a major blow as they lost a two-goal lead at CSKA Moscow.
Sergio Aguero tapped in Edin Dzeko’s pass to give City the lead in a near-empty stadium with fans banned over previous CSKA disturbances.
James Milner slid home the second and then hit the post, before Seydou Doumbia converted from six yards.
Doumbia was fouled late on and Bedras Natcho levelled from the spot.
The impact of Doumbia from the bench helped prevent a seventh successive defeat in the Champions League for CSKA, but his tumble under a challenge from Aleksandar Kolarov will anger the visitors.
Kolarov seemed to simply stand his ground in the 18-yard box, but the Hungarian referee pointed to the spot in a moment that may end City’s hopes of reaching the knock-out stages for just the second time in four attempts.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side now have two points from three games in Group E after losing at Bayern Munich and drawing at home to Roma.
They beat CSKA home and away in the group stages of last year’s competition and will have to beat them at Etihad Stadium in two weeks to stave off another early exit for one of Europe’s richest clubs.
Pellegrini had vowed in pre-season to improve on his side’s recent European performances but also raised concerns before kick-off that the closed ground – a Uefa punishment for the past racist behaviour of the home side’s fans – could provide a strange challenge for his players.
Those worries were fully realised, as City conceded for the 10th Champions League game in a row and threw away a two-goal half-time lead they had comfortably merited.
The echoes of a handful of dignitaries, stewards and youth-team players could be heard early on inside the Arena Khimki when Ahmed Musa and former Manchester United player Zoran Tosic both flashed efforts just wide from range.
But silence met Aguero’s opener when Dzeko raced on to David Silva’s through ball to provide a tap-in and an 11th goal in as many games for the Argentine.
After Aguero’s fifth goal in three games against CSKA, he turned provider when his scuffed cross-shot allowed Milner to race in and double the lead.
The England midfielder smashed against the post moments later when well placed and his miss would ultimately prove costly as the hosts – fresh from a 6-0 win over Kuban Krasnodar at the weekend – stunned their visitors after the break.
As City eased off – creating no meaningful opening in the second half – their hosts grew in confidence and Musa drilled an effort across goal for substitute Doumbia to convert.
The English champions have faced Bayern Munich three times in the group stages, as well as the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Real Madrid, Napoli and Villarreal, as Uefa’s seeding system – based on past European performance – has worked against them.
That system will change from next season – and City may well welcome an easier draw, because once Natcho’s late penalty eluded Joe Hart, their chances of a run to this year’s final in Berlin look decidedly slim. — BBC Sport