FC Rubin Kazan's victory in Spain last week proved to be enough as they knocked out UEFA Europa League holders Club Atlético de Madrid despite Falcao's late goal in Moscow.
After bringing Atlético's 12-match winning home run in Europe to a shuddering halt with a 2-0 success in the first leg, Rubin contained their visitors for long periods in the return. Falcao struck in the 84th minute to set up a nervy finale, yet although the Russian team lost captain César Navas to a late red card, they held out to earn a last-16 tie against Levante UD.
If the defending champions had any hope, it surely came in the form of Falcao – the competition's top scorer for the last two seasons. There were only three minutes gone when he announced himself with a typically opportunistic strike that was tipped over by Sergei Ryzhikov.
Rubin's first-half attacking endeavour amounted to a few pot shots that did not overly trouble Sergio Asenjo and as the game settled down, that is what constituted Atlético's main threat as well. They nearly got back into the tie when Sergei Kislyak diverted the ball towards his own goal but Oleg Kuzmin recovered to clear with Falcao lurking.
The Spanish side were struggling to break through – perhaps no surprise with Rubin having lost only two of 20 European home matches – and nearly went behind on the hour when José Rondón got in but shot straight at Asenjo. The 18-year-old Saúl Ñiguez then wriggled through for Atlético but Rubin captain César Navas came across to snuff out the danger.
Atlético were running out of ideas until Adrián López went on a surging run, beat three players and squared for Falcao to slide in. The goal took him out on his own as second in the all-time UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League scorers list. Navas was then dismissed for a challenge on the Colombia forward yet Rubin resisted to end Atlético's title defence.
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