The Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven began this seasons Champions League campaign with a narrow but valuable 2-1 victory over the Russian champions CSKA Moscow.
PSC who surprisingly knocked Arsenal out the competition last season before losing in the quarter-finals to Liverpool, had to work hard to overcome their stubborn opponents who were always dangerous when breaking quickly from defence. After a goal-less first half, strikes by Danko Lazovic and Kenneth Perez in the 59th and 78th minutes put PSV in command, but a late goal by Brazilian Vagner Love for the Russians made the final few minutes very tense in the Philips Stadium. PSV suffered an early setback when their young influential midfielder Ibrahim Afellay had to leave the field, limping, having being subjected to several heavy tackles by the Russians. The Danish international Kenneth Perez who came on as a substitute linked well with the Australian Jason Culina, and they set-up several good chances for Danny Kovermans and the Serbian Lazovic, but the strikers had an off-day with their shooting. The closest the home side came to scoring in the first half was when Lazovic broke free on the right and crossed the ball, but Kovermans header scraped the outside of the post. CSKA Moscow could have taken the lead when Jo missed a great chance to score, heading wide, after Krasic had beaten three PSV defenders in a mazy right wing run. The elusive first goal finally came in the 59th minute when Perez and Kovermans combined to set-up Lazovic and he made no mistake from close range. The stuttering PSV defence continued to make life difficult for themselves and Yuri Zhirkov somehow put the ball wide of the goal following an superb pass from Vagner Love. PSV nerves were settled a little in the 78th minute when substitute Jan Kromkamp broke quickly from defence and exchanged passes with Perez who picked his spot before hitting a fierece drive just inside the post to make it 2-0. However in the 88th minute Kromkamp was at fault allowing Vagner Love to skip past him and shoot past the despairing goalkeeper Gomes to set-up a final few tense minutes. Jo seemed certain to equalize for CSKA but somehow managed to head the ball over the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat. PSV players and fans were relieved to hear the final whistle blown and start the campaign with 3 points. Fenerbahce (Turkey) and Inter Milan (Italy) are the other two teams in Group G. PSC coach Ronald Koemans said that he hopes to rotate his team, injuries permitting, between the Champions League and Dutch Premier League competitions. However he insisted that the domestic title was the higher priority. By Patrick Watts, MercoPress Correspondent - Europe.