Rubin Kazan 1-1 Inter: Italian Champions Held By Russian Champions
Italian champions and former European Cup winners Inter somehow managed to come away from Kazan with a 1-1 draw after hosts Rubin gave them a run for their money in Group F.
Rubin Kazan played a glorious game at the Central Stadium as they held Inter to a 1-1 draw. Alejandro Dominguez gave them the lead in the 11th minute but Dejan Stankovic equalised for them just before the half hour mark. Mario Balotelli was sent off for the Nerazzurri in the second half and captain Sergey Simak hit the post for the hosts late on in the game
Hosts Rubin started in a 4-4-2 formation with Alejandro Dominguez playing alongside Alexander Bukharov in attack. As for Inter, coach Jose Mourinho was already without his two first team players Wesley Sneijder and Thiago Motta for this clash and before the start of the match, key striker Diego Milito pulled out complaining of muscle fatigue, leaving Mario Balotelli to partner Samuel Eto’o in attack with Mancini playing just behind them in a 4-3-1-2 system.
This was the first time that Rubin were featuring in a Champions League match in front of their own fans and the mood was pretty much flamboyant from the start. The Tatarstan club started brightly and earned a free-kick as early as the first minute but they couldn’t get the ball past the Inter wall.
The game lost its tempo after that somewhat but after five minutes again the momentum increased as buoyed by an expected home crowd, Rubin went on the offensive and put forward more than six players in Inter’s half.
The Russian champions’ persistence paid off in the 11th minute when they shocked their more illustrious opponents by taking the lead. Dominguez breezed past legendary defender Lucio, hoodwinked Walter Samuel and hit a powerful left-footer that seared into the top left corner of the net to score one of the best goals of this season’s Champions League campaign so far.
The match assumed more intensity after that goal as both sides started playing more attacking football, Inter trying to quickly recover and Rubin trying to build upon the astonishing early lead.
But the home side maintained control of the match until the 17th minute when Lucio drilled a powerful shot from just outside the Rubin penalty box but it went inches wide off the mark. It was the first genuine chance the Nerazzurri had created until then.
Two minutes later, though, Inter could have gone 2-0 behind had Cesar Nevas been more accurate with his header. Dominguez whipped in a powerful and inviting cross but the Spaniard couldn’t keep his header on target.
The visitors did try and counter Rubin’s attack but they were failing to construct moves of their own. But three minutes before the half hour mark Inter restored parity when an excellent cross from Maicon was headed in by Dejan Stankovic.
Mourinho’s men then started growing in confidence and in the 31st minute could have even added a second goal had Mario Balotelli’s long range effort not hit the Rubin crossbar.
The remainder of the half saw end-to-end action as each side desperately tried to impose themselves on the other. Dominguez ripped apart the Inter backline with an exquisite through ball in the 38th minute but Lucio intervened. A couple of minutes later Maicon and Stankovic combined on the right but it yielded nothing productive in the end.
The final meaningful action of the half came in the 45th minute when a poor defensive clearance saw Lucio receive the ball on the edge of the Rubin box but his left-footed shot couldn’t get past their custodian Sergey Ryzhikov.
The second-half started where the first-half had ended, with attacking play getting the preference, but there was a suspicion that the game had lost a degree of its pace.
However, it was again Rubin who created the first chance of the half as Gokdeniz Karadeniz threaded in a ball for Alexander Bukharov but the latter failed to hold his footing. That was in the 47th minute.
As in the first-half, in the second session too it was the hosts who were seeing more of the ball in the early stages but they couldn’t do much with it. Inter did try and construct their own moves but they failed to gain a proper holding.
Two minutes before the hour mark Bukharov set up Sergey Semak but the Rubin captain’s shot flew wide off the target.
Moments later disaster struck for Inter as striker Mario Balotelli was sent off after seeing yellow for the second time in the match. He had appeared frustrated since the start of the second half and was deservedly shown yellow and subsequently the red for a needless challenge on Christian Noboa.
Mourinho brought in Ricardo Quaresma for Mancini in the 65th minute and two minutes later the Portuguese tried a 25-yard shot that was nowhere near the Rubin goal.
The hosts, though, didn’t sit back for long and had two good chances immediately. First Lucio cleared the ball away from danger to put flights to a quick counter-attack from Rubin and then Cristian Ansaldi pulled Julio Cesar into making a glorious save.
A minute later on 70 minutes Bukharov was presented with an easy chance but the Russian midfielder failed to take his shot properly. That was probably the best chance of the second half for either side.
Down to ten men, Inter left gaps that Rubin desperately tried to take advantage of. The visitors were pushed back deep inside their own half as Ryazantsev and Dominguez came close to giving the home side the lead. Bukharov too had a chance to make it 2-1 in the 79th minute when he outmuscled Lucio in the air but his header was off-target.
In the 81st minute Simak hit the Inter post from a close range after finding himself with lots of space at the back post. It was all Rubin by this time as a ten-man Nerazzurri defended with everything they had left in their tank.
Walter Samuel did have a great chance of scoring an unlikely winner for Inter in the dying minutes of the match but he couldn’t and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.