LEVERKUSEN, Germany — Bayer Leverkusen missed a host of chances and squandered a two-goal lead to open its Champions League campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.
“If we’re short two points at the end of the group phase, then we’ll know where we lost them,” Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt said of the Group E game.
The Russian champion, which had lost on all previous five visits to Germany, stunned the home side with two goals in three minutes to cancel out Leverkusen’s early lead.
“It was decisive that we could quickly adjust to Leverkusen’s tremendous pace,” CSKA coach Leonid Slutski said. “We’re happy to start with a point.”
Admir Mehmedi put the home side ahead in the ninth minute, beating the offside trap to control Benjamin Henrichs’ pass with his first touch and dispatching the ball past CSKA ‘keeper Igor Akinfeev with his next.
Hakan Calhanoglu made it 2-0 with an unstoppable chip inside the far post in the 15th minute.
Leverkusen looked to be cruising and might even have gone further ahead before Moscow shocked home fans with two quick goals.
Alan Dzagoev was sent through to score by Aleksei Ionov in the 36th, before Lacina Traore laid the ball off for Roman Eremenko to shoot through Leverkusen ‘keeper Bernd Leno’s legs for the second.
“It’s very disappointing the way it happened,” Leverkusen midfielder Julian Brandt said. “We won’t be going to bed with smiles on our faces tonight.”
Schmidt reacted by bringing on in-form Finnish striker Joel Pohjanpalo for Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Charles Aranguiz for Calhanoglu at the break.
Brandt missed a great chance just after the break, and the home side also had a penalty appeal waved away when Pohjanpalo appeared to have been brought down by defender Vasili Berezutski.
The home side pushed hard for a winner but looked increasingly vulnerable to conceding on a counterattack. Both sides went close in a frenetic finale.