Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari offered no excuses after his Spanish giants were floored 3-0 by CSKA Moscow.
Real had already qualified for the Champions League last-16 as Group G winners, but that should not mask a poor performance, even if it was by a much-changed team.
Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari offered no excuses for defeat to CSKA Moscow. (Manu Fernandez/AP Wire)
Despite CSKA’s victory, though, they could not secure third place in the group and Europa League qualification after Viktoria Plzen took that spot by beating Roma 2-1.
And that was rough justice on the Russian side, whose European season came to an end on a night of otherwise unbridled joy.
It was Real’s heaviest European home defeat and their first home reversal in the Champions League group stage for nine years.
Goals by Fedor Chalov, Georgi Schennikov and Arnor Sigurdsson secured an emphatic CSKA success.
“I’m down because although we were through, we wanted to finish the group with a win, and we didn’t do that,” Solari said, in comments reported by www.uefa.com.
“We started the game well, especially the first 30-35 minutes, but we weren’t good enough in either box and they punished us.
“I didn’t like what I saw in the second half.
“It is my job to get the side ready, and I picked a young group today, but this allowed them to get some minutes into their legs and gain experience.”
Solari’s CSKA counterpart, Viktor Goncharenko, added: “It’s sad to say the least to beat Real Madrid, earn seven points, but finish bottom and get eliminated from Europe.
“But we only have ourselves to blame. In any case, we’ve made sure we will spend the holidays in a great mood after tonight’s win.”
And scorer Schennikov said: “We were full of positive emotions at the final whistle, but felt such a huge disappointment after hearing the result in Plzen.
“We were hoping for Roma to at least draw, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“Still, our young team have got such important experience in this UEFA Champions League, and it’s certainly good for its future.”
Solari made a number of changes, including handing starts to Isco and Marco Asensio, while a star-studded bench featured Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.
And Real did not settle consistently during a first half that reached its conclusion with CSKA stunning their hosts by scoring two goals during a vibrant six-minute spell.
Chalov struck for the first in brilliant fashion, beating home goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a superb shot into the corner of the net.
And with just two minutes left before the break, the visitors struck again as neat approach work left the Real defence bemused, and although Courtois’ sharp goalkeeping averted the initial danger, Schennikov bundled a rebounded shot into the net.
Gareth Bale picked up a knock during Real Madrid’s Champions League defeat against CSKA Moscow. (Paul White/AP Wire)
Solari reacted immediately, making an interval switch as he sent on Bale for Karim Benzema. Kroos also joined the action within the hour mark, replacing Marcos Llorente, but there was a scare for Real when Bale crashed to the ground clutching his right ankle.
The Wales international continued after treatment, but he did not look comfortable as he attempted to run off the knock.
But a hobbling Bale mirrored Real’s fortunes as CSKA put the issue beyond doubt with a third goal 17 minutes from time.
Real’s defensive work had assumed comedy value, and the visitors did not require a second invitation to enjoy the last laugh.
Courtois was again powerless as Sigurdsson swept the ball home, putting the seal on an outstanding CSKA display.