FC Rubin Kazan kept their hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages alive with a 1-0 Group D victory against FC København on a bitterly cold and blustery evening in the Tatarstan capital.
Christian Noboa's penalty in first-half stoppage time was enough to give Kurban Berdyev's side their maiden home win in the competition at the sixth attempt. More importantly, however, it moves the Kazan outfit to within a point of the Danish champions going into the final round of matches in two weeks' time, when Rubin travel to leaders FC Barcelona and second-placed København entertain Panathinaikos FC.
Rubin started industriously but for all their pretty football in midfield, they were unable to fashion any notable chances. In fact, it was the visitors who should have taken the lead on 14 minutes. The evergreen Jesper Grønkjær skipped past his marker and crossed for an unmarked Christián Bolaños in the penalty area, but the Costa Rican international fired over.
The home team were enjoying the lion's share of possession but they only had Sergei Kornilenko's long-range drive, which never looked like troubling Johan Wiland in the visitors' goal, to show for their efforts. Deep into added time at the end of the first half, though, Rubin nudged in front. Bebras Natcho's free-kick hit Grønkjær on the hand and captain Noboa took the spot-kick responsibility upon himself, dispatching the ball high into the roof of the net.
FCK began to increase the tempo after the break and finally managed to register their first shot on target on 49 minutes when Zdeněk Pospěch's effort forced Sergei Ryzhikov into a smart near-post save. Rubin were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure while looking to use the hold-up play of Kornilenko and the pace and trickery of Gökdeniz Karadeniz as an attacking outlet.
Ståle Solbakken's side continued to push forward, with Dame N'Doye shooting against the crossbar. In added time, Ryzhikov made a match-winning save to deny substitute Kenneth Zohore as Rubin defended desperately to hold on for a vital three points.
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