FC Internazionale Milano had to hang on with ten men in the last half-hour to come away from FC Rubin Kazan with a Group F point.
Kazan was staging its first UEFA Champions League fixture and within eleven minutes Alejandro Domínguez had struck in his tenth consecutive Rubin game. Dejan Stanković equalised as Inter responded well but after Mario Balotelli's dismissal they were forced to cling on to secure a second point, one more than Rubin.
Any thoughts the home team might sit back against such celebrated visitors were dispelled in the opening minute when the home side surged forward and earned a dangerous free-kick. The set-piece did not bear fruit but Rubin's intent was clear and the early pressure eventually told as Aleksandr Bukharov latched on to a through-pass and laid off to the on-rushing Domínguez. The Argentinian forward strode past Lucio and Walter Samuel before hammering an angled shot into the roof of Júlio César's net for his second goal in as many group games.
The Brazilian custodian made amends three minutes later, tipping the ball over the bar after Domínguez tested him from a free-kick. After Lucio volleyed just wide at the other end, Júlio César was grateful to see Rubin defender César Navas head over after being found unmarked at the far post by Domínguez. Inter then began to settle and Sergei Ryzhikov produced an incredible save after 21 minutes to stop Samuel Eto'o from point-blank range.
After a last-gasp interception denied Mancini, starting in place of the injured Diego Milito, it was clear Rubin were becoming stretched. But having paid for sitting back on a lead only to lose 3-1 at FC Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday 1, the home team kept pressing only to see their lead disappeared on 27 minutes when the unmarked Stanković headed in Maicon's cross. Ryzhikov had to tip Balotelli's cross-shot on to the bar as Inter continued to attack.
Home side respond
After the break Inter continued where they had left off, pegging Rubin back, but the Russian champions defended staunchly and soon the visitors began to drop back while the home side, urged on by a noisy crowd, gained in confidence. After Sergei Semak went close from 20 metres out, Rubin won a succession of corners but were unable to make them count.
Inter were reduced to ten men on the hour when Balotelli was dismissed for a second booking after a foul on Christian Noboa. Soon Júlio César had to stretch himself to palm away Noboa's curling shot from distance before Bukharov miscued when put in perfect position by Gökdeniz Karadeniz's strong run into the box.
Semak hits post
The Rubin fans increased the volume and their players piled on the pressure. But they could not force the winner; Aleksandr Ryazantsev failing to place his shot when in the box, Bukharov heading just wide from Gökdeniz's cross and Semak hitting the post after a corner on 81 minutes. Nevertheless, with this performance they will be a threat at FC Barcelona on 20 October, when Inter, who brought on Patrick Vieira late on, will hope for a first group win at home to Dynamo.