A weakened United side struggled to grab a 3-3 draw against the fifth best team in Russia but an Antonio Valencia strike in the dying seconds proved enough to secure a place in the last 16 and escape a Group of Death that also contained seventh-placed German side Wolfsburg and Besiktas - one of the best three teams in Istanbul.
But it is the manner of United's qualification that has delighted the club's directors as the Red Devils benefitted from their 10,000th goal to be scored after the 90th minute of a match.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men have a rich tradition of jammy late goals and famously won the title five times in the 1990s without finding the net before the 88th minute of any game.
And in honour of their milestone, Manchester United plan to hold a ceremony on the Old Trafford pitch before their routine win over Everton on November 21.
A host of household names will be paraded in front of the fans, including referee Martin Atkinson, who played nearly four days in United's dramatic derby win over Man City in September.
However, mahogany-faced manager Ferguson wasn't in party mood after the CSKA draw. The Scotsman blasted the match referee for "two or three perfectly good goals" scored during the warm-down that weren't included in the final score.