The game between Sparta Prague and CSKA Moscow may have been a dead rubber, but it was a very entertaining second half as both sides looked for the win. The temperatures in Prague tonight must have been around -10, not to mention the amount of snow which fell today. But all in all, the pitch looked in very good condition.
The game finished 1-1 – a fair result upon reflection. The Russian visitors looked the classier of the two sides but Sparta’s enthusiasm and energy paid off when Kadlec smashed in the equalizer. The game had started scrappy, both sides struggling to get to grips with the hard surface. The Sparta Ultra’s had decided to throw snowballs at the 4th official, to amuse themselves whilst both sides got to grips with the icy surface.
CSKA started to knock some slick passing about, and a good spell of possession lead to Alan Dzagoev drifting past the Sparta defence on 15 minutes and finishing rather nicely to put the Russians on course for a perfect 6 wins out of 6. Much had been made of ex-Slavia player Tomas Necid returning to Prague to face Sparta, the Czech striker has been scoring goals for fun in Europe this season, and was expected to give the Sparta defence a hard time.
But Necid looked frustrated, as Dzagoev, Oliseh and Tosic failed to provide quality service to the CSKA front man. As skillful and talented as Alan Dzagoev is, you get the impression he knows his own hype and tries to do too much, beating man after man, enjoyful yet frustrating to watch.
So, it was up to Vaclav Kadlec, the 18-year-old Sparta striker to provide the cutting edge, as he collected the ball inside the CSKA box, he found a yard of space and arrowed the ball into the CSKA net on 44 minutes. 1-1 and the home fans were happy, no more snowball fights, they had a goal to celebrate.
The second half was end to end, with Sparta the better team as they looked to build on their equalising goal. Sparta showed their attacking intent by bringing on front man Kweuke, and it almost paid off as he had two decent opportunities. With one hitting the post at the death, by this time the game was stretched and CSKA were quick on the counter attack, but poor decision-making failed to make Sparta pay.
Necid, despite his lack of service, fashioned out his own chance on 79 minutes but his turn and shot was well saved by the Sparta keeper. The game finished 1-1 and the Sparta fans were happy with the point, they had played well despite the poor start to the game. Both teams are in the hat for Fridays draw for the knock out stages, and neither team should fear anyone.
Slovakian midfielder Juraj Kucka impresses me every time I see him play, a truly great midfielder in the making. But it was young Vaclav Kadlec who will smiling tonight, more so than his Czech teammate Tomas Necid.
My report with Goal! Weekly will be posted within the next 24 hours.