Manchester City escaped Russia with a 2-1 victory over CSKA Moscow on Wednesday night, and they can thank Joe Hart for the points.
The home side went ahead through Zoran Tosic in the first half. The Serbian latched onto a through-ball and chipped the 'keeper, but a Sergio Aguero brace before the break put City in control.
Manuel Pellegrini's men rode their luck through the second half despite having an Alvaro Negredo goal disallowed. They now sit second in the group with six points from nine.
City started tentatively, testing a questionable pitch that had been sanded and painted heavily before the game to ensure it was usable for the tie.
After eight minutes, they settled and began to sustain pressure upon CSKA Moscow's box, with Aguero in particular looking lively.
The Army Men were playing almost exclusively on the counter, absorbing pressure, winning headers and using Seydou Doumbia as an outlet in the forward areas. The Ivory Coast international has been absent due to injury for several weeks, and his presence clearly lifted a side bereft of goals in their domestic campaign.
Twice he sniffed out good opportunities to break through on goal, but each time he was halted by a combination of Matija Nastasic and Joe Hart.
As the home side grew into the game the crowd got louder, Tosic opened the scoring after latching onto a flick-on and chipping the onrushing Hart.
Less than a minute later City were level, with David Silva surging down the left and feeding Aguero, who beat his marker and rolled an acute finish just inside the far post.
CSKA looked shell-shocked, and less than 10 minutes later Aguero netted again. Negredo lifted a sumptuous ball into the back post, and the Argentine bravely headed home under pressure.
The second half started in dubious fashion, as Negredo bundled the ball into the net from a Jesus Navas cross, but he was booked for "intentionally handballing" into the goal.
Both sides began to trade blows in an end-to-end encounter, and Leonid Slutsky threw on Ahmed Musa to provide extra pace and firepower up top. Tosic had the City defence alert again as he drove through midfield and beat three players, but he stumbled outside the box and failed to get his shot away.
Musa fired a golazo in from 20 yards with 20 minutes to go, but play was called back for a high foot into Yaya Toure's face. Hart was called into action to deny Honda on an attempted volley from close range in the final seconds.
City will count their blessings, but all that matters is a three-point haul.
Key Player Grades
Sergio Aguero, Man City: A
Aguero was on hand to score twice for City on the night, and he continued his encouraging trend of netting with his head. He was lively throughout and silky in his movement.
Zoran Tosic, CSKA Moscow: A-
The former Manchester United man was electric from the right wing, put in some good crosses and troubled City's defence while running head-on. His goal was superb.
Full Player Grades
CSKA Moscow "host"—if their pitch grows back—Kuban Krasnodar on Saturday, while City travel to Stamford Bridge to tackle Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.
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