MOSCOW: Heung-Min Son hit his fifth goal in five games to kick-start Tottenham Hotspur's Champions League Group E campaign in Moscow.
Son netted the Spurs winner against CSKA after an inspired switch by manager Mauricio Pochettino, who had replaced Vincent Janssen with Georges-Kevin N'Koudou and moved his form man into the central striking role.
Son followed up his brace against Middlesbrough in the Premier League with a 71st-minute goal in Russia that got Pochettino's team off the mark in Group E following their defeat to Monaco.
Son had been dragged off at half-time in the Monaco loss, but he was very much the Spurs hero on Tuesday night. Without five first-team players, Pochettino largely had his hands tied over his team selection in Moscow but still managed to spring a surprise.
Kieran Trippier replaced Kyle Walker at right-back, which meant neither of Pochettino's first-choice full-backs started with Danny Rose still injured and Ben Davies deputising on the left.
The decision to start with Walker on the substitutes bench suggested Pochettino had one eye on Sunday's Premier League clash against Manchester City. Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Moussa Sissoko all missed the trip to Russia, which meant Victor Wanyama started behind a midfield four of Eric Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son.
The balance did not look quite right for Spurs in the early stages as CSKA came out of the blocks in search of a goal and the home fans were appealing for a penalty in just the sixth minute.
Right-back Mario Fernandes showed his willingness to get forwards and found former Manchester United youngster Zoran Tosic, whose shot struck Jan Vertonghen in the penalty area. Although the ball may well have hit Vertonghen on the arm, there was certainly no intent and referee Antonio Lahoz was right to ignore the appeals of the CSKA supporters.
Fernandes threatened again after Roman Eremenko had overhit a cross from the left, but, this time, it was Wanyama who cut out the danger. The midfielder was booked in the 12th minute, however, for a foul on Aleksandr Golovin which meant he needed to be careful.
CSKA midfielder Pontus Wernbloom managed to break down Tottenham's attacks and the visitors were too often slow in their build-up play. Lacina Traore skipped past Alli far too easily to make his way into the Tottenham penalty area before Toby Alderweireld came to his team-mate's rescue. Vertonghen then blocked a Georgi Shchennikov cross that was intended for the CSKA striker and Tosic fired the loose ball wastefully over the bar.
Tottenham had only managed a single shot at the home goal in the opening half-an-hour - a wild effort from Eriksen - but went closest to scoring 10 minutes before the half-time break. Eriksen wriggled his way into the area and the ball fell to Alli, whose thumping shot struck the CSKA crossbar.
Igor Akinfeev made his first save shortly afterwards, as the goalkeeper collected Alderweireld's header from Trippier's cross.
Alli found Trippier in acres of space shortly after the break, but the right-back's driven cross evaded everybody in the penalty area and bounced out of play. Davies then threatened down the left and won a corner that was wasted.
Son, who has been in such good form in the Premier League, should really have got a shot in after being released by Lamela. But the South Korean's effort was blocked and Lamela was tackled as he tried to jink his way back into the CSKA area. Akinfeev looked beaten when Son curled a left-footed shot towards the right-hand corner of the goalkeeper's net, but the ball skidded narrowly wide.
Spurs were well on top at this stage and Lamela spread the play well for Davies. The Welshman's low cross was begging to be turned into the net, but nobody was in position to do so.
Janssen had struggled to make an impact, with the ball too often bouncing off him, and Pochettino reacted by replacing the Dutchman with N'Koudou with just over 20 minutes remaining. Son was pushed forwards to play as the lone striker.
The move paid almost instant dividends. Lamela provided a wonderful assist to put his team-mate through on goal and Son's shot hit Akinfeev and squirmed over the line.
With so few Spurs fans inside CSKA's smart new stadium, the goal was greeted by almost complete silence but Pochettino and his staff celebrated up the touchline.
CSKA Moscow (4-2-3-1) Akinfeev 7 Fernandes 7 V Berezutski 6 Igashevich 6 Schennikov 6 Golovin 6 Wernbloom 7 Tosic 6 Eremenko 5 Milanov 5 Traore 6
Substitutes A Berezutski (on for V Berezutski, 46) 5. Natcho (on for Tosic, 72) 6.
Tottenham (4-1-4-1) Lloris 7 Trippier 6 Alderweireld 7 Vertonghen 7 Davies 6 Wanyama 6 Lamela 7 Eriksen 6 Alli 7 Son 8 Janssen 5 Substitutes N'Koudou (on for Janssen, 67) 6. Winks (on for Alli, 82) 6.