Olympiacos FC will take a 1-0 lead into next week's UEFA Europa League round of 32 home leg after a slender victory at FC Rubin Kazan.
After a quiet first half, Olympiacos took the lead on 71 minutes courtesy of David Fuster's deflected effort. The real hero, though, was goalkeeper Roy Carroll. With his first ever touch in his debut for his new club, the Northern Irish goalkeeper pulled off a terrific penalty save with 14 minutes to go after being called upon to replace Balázs Megyeri, who had been sent off for conceding the spot kick.
Both teams were hindered by the freezing temperatures in the Russian capital, but it was the visitors who started the better, with Kevin Mirallas and Rafik Djebbour linking particularly well in attack. Rubin, on the other hand, were showing understandable signs of rustiness having not played a competitive fixture in two months due to the Russian winter break.
Kurban Berdyev's team did fashion a good opening on 14 minutes, though, a quick break down the left putting Nelson Valdez through on goal. However, the Paraguayan international's shot from a tight angle was comfortably saved by Megyeri.
Neither keeper was forced into notable action thereafter until the 71st minute. Moments after striking the bar, Olympiacos went in front when Fuster pounced on Rubin's failure to clear a corner and struck a firm shot high into the net via a deflection off Natcho, stationed on the goal line.
The hosts should have been level five minutes later after Megyeri was dismissed having felled Gökdeniz Karadeniz. However, Carroll, a January signing, came off the bench for his debut and made a remarkable instant impact, diving to his left to deny Natcho and earn a mobbing from his new team-mates.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.