Villa crash out

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Aston Villa's 'reserves' did not disgrace themselves after being exposed to the bitter Moscow cold and manager Martin O'Neill's ambitions as they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup 3-1 on aggregate.

But this was always going to be a bridge too far for a makeshift side in the wake of eight first-team regulars controversially being left at home, and so it proved in the return leg of this last-32 UEFA Cup tie which finished 2-0 on the night.

On the plastic pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium it required second-half strikes from Yuri Zhirkov on the hour and Vagner Love in the third minute of injury-time to break Villa's resistence.

CSKA dominated the first half, but then not once was Brad Guzan called on to make a save. There were two headers from Vasily Berezutskiy that threatened, one a bullet effort from a Zhirkov corner that ended narrowly over the bar, and the second from a Milos Krasic delivery that finished inches wide of the right-hand post.

There was also Alan Dzagoev curling a 25-yard right-footed free-kick fractionally wide of the same upright, whilst Vagner Love dragged a drive wide of the left-hand post following a fine run.

What proved to be Villa's only worthwhile effort of the game came in the 14th minute when the lively Marc Albrighton's cross found fellow 19-year-old Nathan Delfouneso for a sidefoot volley comfortably taken by Igor Akinfeev.

At least O'Neill took a positive stance at the start of the second half, abandoning his ineffective 4-5-1 line-up and switching to a 4-4-2. That, though, only gave CSKA the space they had lacked in the first half, underlined by two gilt-edged chances that went begging in the opening 10 minutes.

But Zhirkov rifled home the opener on the hour. Another Curtis Davies tackle on Krasic on the right-hand corner of the area resulted in German referee Felix Brych harshly punishing the centre-back.

That allowed Alan Dzagoev to tee up Zhirkov for a thunderous drive from the edge of the area that flew through a crowd of players and inside Guzan's left-hand post.

Other opportunities followed, with Guzan twice denying Zhirkov again, before CSKA gained their reward with virtually the last kick of the game via Vagner Love's 10th goal of the competition and 26th in 42 European games overall.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Europa League
Brad Guzan
European News
Premier League
Curtis Davies
Nathan Delfouneso
Aston Villa

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