New kid Wernbloom already paying dividends for CSKA
MOSCOW - Reuters
CSKA Moscow’s Pontus Wernbloom (R) celebrates after scoring a dramatic equalizer against Real Madrid with teammate Vasili Berezutski in the Champions League REUTERS photoCSKA Moscow’s Pontus Wernbloom made a quick return on the club’s recent investment and was labelled a hero by the team’s usually quiet coach after scoring a last-gasp equalizer against Real Madrid in a Champions League round of 16 clash on Feb. 21.
The Swedish defensive midfielder was in the right place at the right time, lashing the ball home in the last minute of added time to help the hosts snatch a 1-1 first-leg draw.
“I’m not a real goalscorer, it’s not my specialty, therefore this goal is a special one for me,” Wernbloom told reporters.
“My main job is to break the other team’s attacks. I usually come forward only when we take a corner or a free kick near the goal, so you could say I was a bit lucky tonight.”
CSKA’s frugal owner Yevgeny Giner bought him from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar for a relatively modest 3 million euros last month.
“I think scoring a goal in such a game, he had justified his purchase,” Giner said.
“Whatever we had paid for his transfer we already got it back with interest,” he added with a smile.
The home side struggled to muster much of a threat with Ivory Coast striker Seydou Doumbia, who scored five goals in his five previous Champions League outings this season, being kept off the ball by the Spaniards’ tight defense.
Wernbloom then came to the rescue to send a record 70,000-strong home crowd wild.
While Wernbloom tried to stay out of the spotlight, CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky singled out the 25-year-old for his overall performance.
“He’s definitely one of our heroes,” said Slutsky, who rarely praises individual players.
“Not only because he scored a very important goal for us but also his play was of high quality throughout the whole match.” In another Champions League match, Napoli crushed Chelsea 3-1.