FC Rubin Kazan got their UEFA Europa League Group A campaign off to a flying start with a three-goal victory against group stage debutants Shamrock Rovers FC in Dublin.
Rubin started putting their UEFA Champions League play-off defeat by Olympique Lyonnais behind them within three minutes as Obafemi Martins put them ahead. Nelson Valdez missed the chance to double the lead from the penalty spot, but the visitors' advantage was eventually extended thanks to fine second-half finishes from Christian Noboa and Gökdeniz Karadeniz. Stephen O'Donnell then saw his penalty well saved by Sergei Ryzhikov just past the hour as Rubin ran out comfortable winners.
The Russian Premier League side made the perfect start to the match when Karadeniz raced on to Noboa's long ball and delivered a dangerous cross which was swept in by Martins. Kurban Berdyev's men came close to doubling their advantage soon afterwards as Valdez connected with a volley which cleared the crossbar.
The hosts' best chance of the first half fell to O'Donnell, but he headed over from Rohan Ricketts' curling cross. Their opponents were then awarded a penalty nine minutes before the break, only for Valdez to fail to convert as Ryan Thompson saved well down to his left.
Within five minutes of the restart, Rubin added the second goal that their first-half dominance had deserved. Noboa latched on to the loose ball after Rovers had failed to clear a cross and his powerfully struck shot gave Thompson no chance. The visitors further extended their lead when Bebras Natcho found Karadeniz inside the penalty area, the latter's curling effort going in off the crossbar.
Michael O'Neill's side were nonetheless handed a route back into the match when Gary Twigg was brought down by César Navas, but O'Donnell was unable to beat Ryzhikov with his penalty. Rubin next host PAOK FC on 29 September, when the Hoops travel to Tottenham Hotspur FC.
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