FC Rubin Kazan are through to the last 32 after – for the second time in as many Group H meetings – a 16th-minute goal earned victory against Neftçi PFK.
Vladimir Dyadyun did the damage this time around, replacing Alan Kasaev on the scoresheet, but it was not until later in the evening that Rubin's qualification was confirmed. The Russian club needed FK Partizan to be denied a win against FC Internazionale Milano, and with Inter clinching a 3-1 success, they and Rubin could celebrate sewing up the top two spots in the section.
The hosts almost drew first blood through Flavinho inside the open 60 seconds, but the match soon reverted to a type familiar to those who witnessed their matchday three meeting. Rubin made all the running, and the cute exchanges between Gökdeniz Karadeniz, Alan Kasaev and Bebras Natcho entranced the encircled Neftçi back line, leaving them chasing shadows – and pretty sizeable ones at times.
The only goal of the night was a case in point as nobody picked up Natcho after a short corner from Kasaev, meaning the Israeli international had all the time in the world to find the head of the similarly unmarked Dyadyun. There was no let-up for the hosts as Rubin continued their siege, with only a combination of desperate defending and Saša Stamenković's strong arms keeping them at bay.
Rubin goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov was finally called into action after half-time to beat away Bruno Bertucci's long shot, but again the early endeavour proved a false dawn. José Rondón, slightly off-balance, fired against woodwork and Stamenković turned Dyadyun's shot round the post as the score remained 1-0. The next mission for Rubin will be to attempt to take control of the section when they host Inter on 22 November.
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