Premier side on top in Vase shoot-out drama

COUNTY Down won an absorbing contest against CSKA Moscow at Rugby Avenue on penalties after the game had ended 3-3 in normal time.

After a scoreless opening half, both teams pressed for an opener.

Islam Mashukov’s header three minutes after the restart brought a fine save from Craig Barnett.

Barnett however couldn’t prevent Moscow from scoring after 40 minutes. Rusian Gordienko flicked on for Nikita Grishin to convert at the back post.

CSKA then had two players sent off in quick succession. Gordienko was shown a straight red for stamping, and Petr Yansin followed suit for using foul and abusive language.

Jamie Sharvin set up County Down’s equaliser with 20 minutes remaining. His left wing cross was inch-perfect for Conor McMenamin to head past Okunev.

Nine-man CSKA took an unlikely lead in freak circumstances with 55 minutes played. Alexsei Pavlishin’s shot hit the unfortunate Karl Devine and the ball looped over Barnett into the net.

Moscow then scored again. Svyatoslav Georgiesky took advantage of some hesitant defending to further the lead with eight minutes to play.

County Down refused to accept defeat. TJ Murray volled home to set up a tense finish.

Four minutes into stoppage time, McMenamin was hauled down inside the area with a penalty. McMenamin stepped up and sent Okunev the wrong way to take the game to a penalty shootout.

Mashukov hit the Down post and Hazard made a superb stop from Pavel Kotov. Ethan Knipe, Conor McMenamin and Padraig McGrath scored for Down. Patrick Bradley then kept his cool to win it with the decisive spot-kick.

Team: Barnett, Shields, Hunsdale, McGrath, McBride, Sharvin, Devine, Coffey, McAleese, Murray, McMenamin. Subs: Salatka, Kane, Harwood, McClelland, Knipe, Mallen, Bradley.