French champions Lille threw away two points in their Champions League Group B opener at the Stadium Nord on Wednesday, gifting two late goals to Russian visitors CSKA in a 2-2 draw which threatens to cost the French dear.
Lille had been racing to an impressive victory, two goals to the good thanks to some fine opportunism from last years Ligue 1 top scorer Moussa Sow for their opener and then a second goal from Benoit Pedretti either side of the break.
But the hosts, playing in their new stadium after European nights spent in “exile” at either Paris or Lens, then pressed the self destruct button as they allowed the Russians to take a point they barely deserved with Ivory Coast striker Seydou Doumbia bagging goals on 72 and 90 minutes.
Lille are competing in the tournament for the fourth time but have to date failed to make a real impression – but this time, with stylish Eden Hazard in effervescent form and on-loan Joe Cole also in their ranks, the northerners expect to show they can cope at the highest level in Europe’s premier club competition.
Pedretti said the players had been punished for becoming too cautious in the closing stages and for an inability to close out a result.
“We stayed back too much. They have good attackers, we made some silly mistakes and were punished – we have to learn from that,” said a disappointed Pedretti.
Sow had been ubiquitous in the first 45 minutes, clipping just wide with only the keeper to beat as Lille dominated the opening quarter while Franck Beria’s shot from distance cleared the bar in the 34th minute before Hazard ended an ebullient run with a low shot which keeper Vladimir Gabulov smothered well.
But the goal they so richly deserved came seconds before the break, Pedretti feeding Sow following a left-wing corner.
The striker saw a half-hit effort bobble back off the post but David Rozenhal turned the loose ball back in and Sow backheeled into the net from barely two metres out.
It looked as if coach Rudy Garcia’s decision to leave the still not match fit Cole on the bench in favour of Ludovic Obraniak would prove a wise one.
Zoran Tosic, fed by Brazilian Vagner Love, saw a curling effort cannon back off the post, and Pedretti promptly delivered what looked as it it would prove the coup de grace within seconds at the other end, sweeping home Lille’s second.
Even so, despite all their domination Lille were vulnerable on the counter attack and they were unable to hold the line as Moscow came roaring back.
First, on 72 minutes, Doumbia, eluded his marker and deftly poked home a low shot.
Cole came on at that point but was unable to turn a changing tide as Doumbia played a stylish one-two with Alan Dzagoev before firing a sumptuous effort beyond Mickael Landreau in the Lille goal.