LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Keisuke Honda thrived in his return to an attacking role as CSKA Moscow cruised past Lausanne 3-0 away in Group F of the Europa League on Thursday.
Honda did not enter the match until the 73rd minute with CSKA already up by two, but coach Leonid Slutsky finally played Honda behind a striker and the Japanese international responded by setting up the Russian side’s third goal to put the game out of Lausanne’s reach.
Honda, who still has not scored since the first round of the World Cup, has been visibly frustrated with Slutsky’s decision to play him in defensive midfield, and had been uncharacteristically quiet before and after games recently.
On this night, however, a smile had returned to Honda’s face after being allowed to do what he does best — create goals.
“It’s fun to be playing toward the front,” said the 24-year-old Honda. “I’m completely convinced this is my most natural position.”
Honda’s through pass in the 80th minute forced Lausanne’s Michel Avanzani to foul inside his own area, giving CSKA a penalty. Vagner Love converted for his second goal of the evening.
“I couldn’t shoot because my man was in the way, and it was the only option I had,” Honda said. ‘But it led to the goal so I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out.
“I think it would have been a lot more interesting for me if I had been in when the game was closer.”
In Group F, Shinji Kagawa plugged in 64 minutes in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-3 win at Ukraine’s Karpaty, but failed to find the net as Mario Gotze won it for the Bundesliga visitors in the 92nd minute.