Evening all: It's Real Madrid versus CSKA Moscow tonight, which is poised at one-each after Pontus Wernbloom's late equaliser at the Luzhniki a fortnight ago. Given the home team's form – winning 30 of their last 34 in all competitions, conceding only three goals in the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo's 46 goals for club and country in 45 games this season and at least one goal in the past six matches in succession from the No7 among all the others – you would expect tonight's match to be a cakewalk.
The Horses have been struggling recently too, six wins in their past 24 games, but they have won 10 and drawn 11 of their past 23 away games in all competitions. Keisuke Honda played in the first leg, after recovering from the knee injury suffered in August, and played on Friday against Dinamo after he hurt his thigh against Zenit but won't feature tonight. It's a shame – when he's on song he can be a delight to watch.
CSKA's coach, Leonid Slutsky, whose playing career was famously ended when he turned Fireman Sam ("I got the injury at 19 when I was climbing a tree looking for a neighbour's cat – I ended up as a hero in my village because I saved the cat. Unfortunately, I also fell out of the tree and injured my knee") is optimistic in a Hot Chocolate way:
"Real scores a lot of goals even they play without key players. To play against them at their home will be a spectacle. They have very quick players. So, we need to be very sharp in defence and try not to give them enough space. It's way too difficult to stop them from scoring but we will try to get an away goal. A few teams can perform at a high level with a variety of tactical manoeuvres. Moreover, they have some of the best players. However, I still believe in miracles."
José Mourinho is not relying on miracles: "I know CSKA from when I was at Chelsea and at Inter and I know they're a complicated team to play. They come at you quickly, are quick on the counter-attack and are strong in defence. But I think we have the tools to overcome them."
I'll be back with the teams in five minutes.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Ozil, Kaká, Ronaldo; Higuaín.
Substitutes: Adan, Sahin, Albiol, Diarra, Granero, Varane, Benzema.
CSKA Moscow: Chepchugov; Schennikov, Ignashevich, V Berezutski, A Berezutski; Aldonin, Wernbloom; Tosic, Musa; Doumbia, Dzagoev.
Substitutes: Revyakin, Semberas, Nababkin, Mamaev, Cauna, Oliseh, Necid.
Referee: S Lannoy (France)
The pre-match build-up has focused largely on CSKA's pessimism going into the match and a state-of-mind interview with Kaká. This is a nice piece on the latter by James Horncastle.
Pre-match predictions: Gerry "Arconada" Armstrong! reckons Real Madrid will win by two or three goals. I agree with him. Sky keep banging on about Barcelona and the "dream" final. I'm sure Bayern Munich have a different dream given the venue for the final.
1 min: We're off, CSKA kicking off, making 10 yards before they're quickly pushed back and Alex Berezutski plays the ball forward from right-back.
3 min: Higuain has a run between the centre-circle and the 18-yard line but is squeezed out of space and the ball goes out right to Ozil, back to Khedira, then a foul gives Real a free-kick wide on the right, 40 yards from goal. Xabi Aonso takes it, crossing but not getting the required loft on it and the ball is cleared.
5 min: CSKA find a bit of space in the centre of the park and Musa almost sets Dzagoev through on the keeper but Pepe reads the pass, steps across and intercepts.
7 min: Real are stroking the ball about in midfield, building from the back and making progress in 10-yard stages until Xabi Alonso tries to play the defence-unlocking 30-yard pass and overhits it into touch.
8 min: Poor touch from Ronaldo, uncharacteristically heavy, almost kiboshes a promising move which is eventually ruined by Higuain darting offside. Then CSKA break up the right from the free-kick and Dzagoev threads a fine pass through to Doumbia who runs on to it diagonally and, under pressure from Casillas, spoons a very good chance over the bar.
10 min: Chepchugov dives down to his right to save Higuain's snap shot. CSKA are using their offside trap to try and catch Real Madrid but it is very dangerous given the pace of Ronaldo
12 min: Sergio Ramos concedes a free-kick with a sliding tackle that got the man, which was always more likely. He should have been booked for that. CSKA stroke the ball out to the right but Real intercept and switch play over to the left where Ozil hits a long pass up the middle which is cut out.
14 min: Rapid break up the right by Musa who's frighteningly quick. He skins Marcelo, veers diagonally towards the box and flashes a low, near-post cross that Doumbia just can't get to.
15 min: Comically bad dive from Ozil, hitting the deck when Ignashevich's hand taps him on the chest. He'd burst into the box on the right following a good through ball from Ronaldo but tried to buy a penalty instead of wrapping his foot around the ball and shooting.
17 min: Corner for Real after Xabi Alonso's shot, which came from Marcelo's blocked cross, is deflected over.
19 min: Good work from Ronaldo up the left when Schennikov's poor pass went straight to him. He burst past the brothers Berezutski and rolled a pass across the six-yard box. It was turned away then Kaka ran on to it and shot, missing the target. "Gotta love that headline on your main sports page today: 'England situation "beyond strange",' writes Paul Taylor. "I'll admit, I didn't read further – does it refer to one sport in particular? Perhaps misplaced from the main news page?" We could apply it to anything. Beyond Steve Strange
21 min: Ronaldo plays another lovely short, angled pass, this time inviting Higuain to run into the box and shoot but Chepchugov is very alert and fast, running out to gather.
24 min: Scuffed cross from Musa on the right is hacked away by Sergio Ramos and Madrid go forward, Ozil and Ronaldo eventually linking up on the left, playing a one-two which lets the German get past the full back. His ball across the box, though, goes straight to Vasili Berezutski who lashes it upfield.
GOAL!! Real Madrid 1-0 CSKA (Higuain)
26 min: The goal came from a lack of pressure on the ball and CSKA's dodgy offside trap. Khedira ket the ball on the right after a good cross from Marcelo. He turned inside then chipped it back to the other side and when the cross came in from Kaka, CSKA had stepped up letting Higuain at the near post and Ronaldo in the centre stay onside. Higuain turned it in with a flick of his boot.
29 min: CSKA have made themselves a couple of very good chances on the break but they have loooked vulnerable to the threaded pass beyond their high defensive line. They need two now.
31 min: Arbeloa treads on Tosic on the edge of the box. Tosic takes the free-kick from 20 yards, straight into the wall and cannons up to Ronaldo who sprints 30 yards and is hacked down by Vasili Berezutski who is yellow carded. The free-kick is spooned over the bar.
33 min: Powerful left-foot shot from the right wing by Musa has to be punched over by Casillas. Excellent work from Doumbia to turn past Pepe and feed him the ball and Musa did well to cut past Marcelo and latch on to it.
36 min: Not much happening, other than Pepe going down when Doumbia ran on to a long pass up the left from Schennikov.
38 min: Diagonal 40-yard pass, right to left, from Xabi Alonso goes over the head of Aleksei Berezutski and Marcelo meets it on his instep on the volley. It was tough ball to trap and his control lets him down and the ball dribbles behind for a goalkick. Had he squared it, Higuain had an open goal.
40 min: Ridiculously tenacious run from Ozil, knocking the ball ahead of him, beating Schennikov and though his touch made the ball race ahead he sprinted after it and controlled it by the touchline, beat Schennikov again and crossed across the box, just behind Ronaldo.
42 min: Higuain goes too early and is caught offside when Kaka threaded a pass between Ignashevich and Aleksei Berezutski.
44 min: Real throw-in allows Khedira to get forward. I like his dribbling skills, he looks so graceful when breaking forward. Having typed that, though, the move breaks down when Marcelo tugs a shirt.
45 min: Having had a go at CSKA's offside trap, they have caught Higuain out three times so far and have just done it for a fourth time when Kaka toed the ball between Vasili Berezutski and Ignashevich. The referee blows for the free-kick and a second later for half time.
Half time: Real Madrid 1 (2) – (1) 0 CSKA Moscow Back in five minutes. As much as Sky are focusing on Cristiano Ronaldo, the best player of the half has been Ozil. He's a wonderful ball player, as my colleague Gregg Roughley pointed out, his run down the right touchline was old-fashioned wing play at its best. Ahmed Musa, too, has a real spark about him. He's very rapid but also has a good touch and is prepared to make those supporting diagonal runs into the box and shoot if the ball finds its way to him.
46 min: Sub for CSKA: Mamaev on for Aldonin. Real kick off and give away possession by spinning a long ball over the top that Ignashevich cuts out, controls and gives to Musa who is fouled by Marcelo.
48 min: Ronaldo plays a very heavy pass, way beyond Higuain's run into the box. When Chepchugov clears it Ronaldo gets it back, runs 10 yards, cuts infield and toe pokes it through to Kaka as he falls to the ground. Kaka steers his shot from 20 yards wide of the left post.
50 min: Chepchugov had to be at his alert best again to cut out Ronaldo's run into the box, diving at the forward's feet. Xabi Alonso gets booked and will miss the next game after sliding in on Wernbloom and leaves his foot hanging to clip the Swede's shin.
52 min: Aleksei Berezutsky stands up and stops Kaka's attempt to dummy him, blocking the pass then palying a one-two with Wernbloom. But Musa miscontrols the out ball and it goes out for a throw.
54 min: Real have a corner after Xabi Alonso's crossfield pass gets past Schennikov who recovers to block the cross from the right. The corner is aimed at Sergio Ramos but it's a tad too high and he can only flick it on to safety and behind him.
56 min: Ozil runs through the middle and backs himself to get past Ignashevich even though Higuain and Ronaldo were either side and not tightly marked. He can't get past him.
GOAL!! Real Madrid 2-0 CSKA (Ronaldo)
55 min: Ronaldo chanced his arm with a shot from 35 yards which Chepchugov should have easily dealt with. It did swerve a little bit but the hitherto impressive goalkeeper makes an absolute naws-up and lets it skip through his hands and into the corner of the goal.
58 min: Higuain puts the ball into the net after a run from Kaka between three defenders and a prodded pass to the left of the box. He finishes well but was at least two yards offside.
59 min: José Mourinho couldn't hide his exasperation with Higuain there and acts as if he's got an invisible tennis racquet, smashing the air. Sub for CSKA: Oliseh on for Musa.
61 min: Come on the commentary box. It doesn't always have to be about Cristiano and José.
63 min: Long phase of keepball from Real, tapping it around the left half of the pitch. Ozil wins a free kick 25 yards out when Mamaev commits his fourth foul in 18 minutes and barges the German over. Ronaldo's free-kick goes through the wall and hits Kaka and out.
65 min: A couple of sharp, short darts from Ronaldo up the left and two quality crosses, the first to the near post for Higuain who can't quite get there, the second nodded behind for a corner. When Xabi Alonso crosses from the corner, Ronaldo leaps and heads it over.
67 min: Dzagoev makes a fast break and Oliseh puts the ball into the net after getting behind Ramos and Pepe but had gone too early and was 10 feet or so offside. Doumbia almost makes amends half a minute later when a long pass meets his run into the box. he tries to take it round Casillas, succeeds and arcs a shot towards goal but without the power and accuracy.
69 min: Long ball out of the back from Arbeloa is trapped by Ronaldo on the chest but he's then brought down before he can take advantage of his great first touch. Sub for Real: Higuain off, Benzema on.
GOAL!! Real Madrid 3-0 CSKA (Benzema)
70 min: Barely half a minute after coming on, the ball is played by Khedira (I think) down the inside-right channel. He takes a tap, shoots, the keeper gets down to save but the Frenchman toe pokes the rebound powerfully into the net.
73 min: Correction: The pass was from Ozil that set up Benzema's goal.
75 min: Real are stroking it about but there is also some excellent running off the ball by Khedira and Ozil to create space. They look a very clever team, Real. I knew they worked hard and had a surfeit of skill. But their movement is tremendous, too.
GOAL!! Real Madrid 3-1 CSKA (Tosic)
77 min: Superb run and finish from someone who's not had a very good game at all. Dzagoev broke forward on the counter down the right then hit the perfect pass to Tosic. He cut in from the left on his right foot, stopped to throw the backtracking defender and to put it on his left, then smashed his curling shot off his instep in off the bar.
80 min: Sub for CSKA. Tosic off after doing his hamstring. Necid on.
81 min: Necid almost had the immediate impact of Benzema, belting his first-touch shot at Casillas who battered it away hamfistedly.
84 min: Mamaev fouls again, hacking at Xabi Alonso's shins. They have looked dangerous CSKA over the past 10 mins as Real have lost momentum. Mourinho has hurled his water bottle in frustration at Real's fannying about.
86 min: More slackness from Real as Doumbia gets past Arbeloa twice but better from the central markers who don't let the CSKA players get to the ball.
88 min: Necid goes past Sergio Ramos who taps him across the calf and concedes the free-kick, which is thoroughly wasted, giving the ball straight to Casillas. Real substituition: Ozil off, Diarra on.
90 min: Sergio Ramos escapes a yellow card when he goes right through Dzagoev from behind. Poor decision by the ref.
90 min+1: Oliseh has just been done for his second foul throw of the half. Things you rarely see … Part 1,211.
90 min+3: Real corner, taken short and the ball goes back to their penalty area.
GOAL!! Real Madrid 4-1 CSKA (Ronaldo) CSKA left themselves light at the back, chasing a goal and Real work the ball up the right to Benzema who rolled it across the six-yard box to Ronaldo who took it in his stride and flicked his finish into an empty goal.
Final whistle: Enjoyable game and some good play from Real Madrid in phases, particularly through Ozil and Xabi Alonso. CSKA rallied, though, and did pose a threat on the counter in the first half and late in the second when Real were either sloppy or complacent. Thanks for your company. Good night.