Ten-man Rubin Kazan FC qualified for the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with a nervy 1-1 draw at PAOK FC, who themselves secured top spot in Group A.
The visitors knew a point would be enough, but made life hard for themselves by losing a goal – and a man – inside a quarter of an hour. Vieirinha converted the penalty conceded by goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov, who was sent off for his transgression, but Nelson Valdez's excellent 48th-minute finish rescued Rubin.
Kurban Berdyev's men could not have got off to a worse start. From their own corner Giorgos Georgiadis broke away, neatly slipped the ball through Petr Nemov's legs, before being sent tumbling by Ryzhikov. A red card swiftly followed, as did the hosts' opener, Vieirinha sweeping the ball beyond the reach of substitute keeper Giedrius Arlauskis.
Defences were on top for the remainder of a cagey first half, with impeccable challenges from Cristian Ansaldi and Etto preventing dangerous passes from finding their targets. But the situation was worrying for Rubin, as Tottenham Hotspur FC were cruising past Shamrock Rovers FC in the group's other contest.
The lifeline came three minutes after the restart; Rubin's 11th goal in Group A, and their sixth scored in the first 15 minutes of the second half – PAOK had clearly failed to do their homework. Gökdeniz Karadeniz did well to cut back his cross onto the penalty spot, where Valdez was waiting to thump a perfectly controlled left-footed volley back across the goalkeeper and inside the right post.
Despite requiring just a point to top the group, PAOK sought to retake the lead and Arlauskis quickly became the star of the show. He made two superb saves before the hour; first blocking Vieirinha's lifted shot with his chest, then getting a strong left palm to Georgiadis's low angled drive. The Greek side continued to threaten, but Rubin held out to seal the section's runners-up spot.
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