Christian Noboa says a second successive goalless draw against Panathinaikos FC has compromised FC Rubin Kazan's hopes of advancing to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 although the skipper vows to "fight until the end".
The Russian titleholders' failure to break down a stubborn visiting defence in Tatarstan means they remain four points adrift of second-placed FC København, who earned an impressive draw with FC Barcelona, in Group D. With two games left, including a Matchday 6 trip to the Camp Nou, Noboa knows Rubin are up against it.
"We have a chance, but it's more difficult now," the Ecuador midfielder said. "We have to win the next two games. Barcelona will be difficult so we need to beat København [at home] first to make sure we finish at least third.
So long as we have a mathematical chance, we will keep on fighting."
The Kazan club threw everything at Panathinaikos on Tuesday, yet visiting goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas was in inspired form, pulling off a string of saves including two to deny the luckless Aleksandr Ryazantsev.
Rubin's last three matches have now ended in stalemate, although for Noboa the most disappointing result was the opening defeat in the Danish capital. "If we'd managed to draw that game we could have gone into the other matches in a different frame of mind," the 25-year-old said. "We must now beat København in our next match to stay alive."
Kurban Berdyev's men have at least kept their noses in front of the Greek champions, who, with two points to their name, have more modest ambitions. "We're playing for third place," conceded Tzorvas after his goalkeeping heroics. "So it was important for us to get a point against a Rubin side who are very strong at home."
Defender Jean-Alain Boumsong was equally satisfied with the outcome, saying: "We might have done better and grabbed a goal if we had shown more belief but overall we have to be happy with the point. Rubin had opportunities to score so it's a decent result for us."
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