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CSKA inflict heavy defeat on Real

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Real Madrid were already guaranteed top spot in their group. Xinhua

MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid suffered their heaviest ever home defeat in Europe on Wednesday when the already-qualified Spaniards were thumped 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu by CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

The Russian side’s remarkable victory, however, was still not enough to secure them a spot in the Europa League as they were pipped to third place in Group G by Viktoria Plzen.

Feder Chalov put CSKA in front against the group winners and triple Champions League holders with a curling shot in the 37th minute and Georgi Shchennikov doubled the visitors’ advantage two minutes before halftime with a scrappy volley on the rebound.

Iceland international Arnor Sigurdsson struck a remarkable third goal for the Russians in the 73rd minute, completing an unlikely second victory for CSKA over Madrid in this Champions League campaign and provoking loud boos and whistles from the unhappy home supporters.

CSKA’s only two wins in the competition this season have come against the 13-times winners and they finished bottom of the group on seven points due to their inferior head-to-head record against Plzen, who beat AS Roma 2-1.

Real, who were already guaranteed top spot in the group, remained on 12 points while Italian-side Roma, who had clinched second place in the group, ended on nine points.

Madrid coach Santiago Solari made seven changes from the side who had scraped a 1-0 victory over La Liga basement club Huesca on Sunday, including handing winger Vinicius Jr. and defender Javi Sanchez their first starts in the Champions League.

“It was important to give the young players and those coming back from injury a chance to play but we did not expect this result,” Solari told reporters.

“I took risks with the starting lineup we played and I take responsibility for that. We weren’t convincing in our box or the opposing area but they were and that’s why the game turned out how it did.”

CSKA also won 1-0 in the Russian capital in October when Julen Lopetegui was in charge of the Spaniards, a result which sparked the beginning of the end for the Spanish coach’s brief spell in charge of Real.

Spain international Marco Asensio came close to giving Real the lead when he struck the post midway through the first half.

But CSKA grew in confidence as the game progressed, particularly after taking the lead.

Hoping to spark a second-half revival, Solari threw on Gareth Bale but had a scare when the injury-prone Wales forward appeared to hurt his ankle and required treatment on the pitch, but he was eventually able to continue.

Solari, who has won eight and lost two games since succeeding Lopetegui, said he had no complaints with the fans booing his side’s display.

“It’s normal for the fans to express themselves if they do not like what they see, but we did not like it either,” he added.

Solari was handed a contract as first-team coach through to June 2021.

The 42-year-old Argentine took over as interim manager in place of sacked former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui.

He played for Real from 2000 to 2005 in the Galacticos era alongside Zinedine Zidane, who became the club’s coach and won three Champions League titles in a row before stepping down.

Solari led Real’s reserve team from 2016 until he took over from Lopetegui last month after the club’s poor run of form culminated in a painful 5-1 El Clasico defeat by Barcelona.

He had earlier presided over victories against Melilla in the Copa del Rey, as well as Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League plus Real Valladolid and Celta Vigo in La Liga.

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