FC Rubin Kazan's stunning 2-1 win at European champions FC Barcelona was both a triumph for their coach Kurban Berdyev and a sorry case of déjà vu for opposite number Josep Guardiola.
Guardiola has now been involved in both victories by Russian clubs at Camp Nou – this remarkable triumph, courtesy of goals in each half from Aleksandr Ryazantsev and Gökdeniz Karadeniz, followed a PFC CSKA Moskva success in the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League which eliminated Guardiola and company from the competition as holders. The visitors displayed total confidence and even though Zlatan Ibrahimović blasted in a 48th-minute equaliser and hit the bar late on, there was no denying them a glorious first win in the group stage.
Despite all the warnings from their coach against complacency, and specifically about the Russian champions' ability to shoot from range, Barcelona could not have expected such a rude awakening. Some fans were still taking their seats, and one or two European champions were evidently settling into the match, when Yaya Touré let the ball slip through his legs. Midfielder Ryazantsev swiftly collected possession, sized up the distance and unleashed a marvellous right-footed shot from well outside the box that fizzed past Víctor Valdés.
Although the hosts tried to emulate Ryazantsev's thrilling strike for the remainder of the first half, they simply could not. Ibrahimović, victim of a knee injury which had kept him out of the weekend goalless draw at Valencia CF, led the way. Twice in 15 minutes he forced Sergei Ryzhikov to make decent saves, before Rubin's Spanish defender César Navas robbed the Swede with a terrific last-gasp tackle when Ibrahimović was about to pull the trigger. Pedro Rodríguez, scorer of the goal that gave Barça the UEFA Super Cup in August, then produced a prodigious leap to head towards the corner of the net – but Ryzhikov stopped the ball at full stretch. Indeed, the visiting No77 looked nothing like a goalkeeper who had already conceded four goals in Group F as he thwarted Lionel Messi shortly before the break.
Nor were Rubin performing like a team whose 2-1 weekend league victory against FC Khimki had been their first win in six outings – Berdyev's charges showed great conviction throughout. Despite defending in numbers, they caused another flutter of Blaugrana nerves with a free-kick just before the break as Alejandro Domínguez stung Valdés's palms.
Within three minutes of the restart, Ibrahimović's first UEFA Champions League goal for Barcelona seemed to herald a dramatic second-half turnaround, but the Spanish titleholders never appeared at ease and only another Ibrahimović free-kick threatened a second goal for the home side. So the group-stage debutants waited for their chance and took it with aplomb 17 minutes from time. Domínguez broke down the middle and supplied a perfect pass for Karadeniz whose blistering speed left Rafael Márquez floundering and allowed him the opportunity to rifle the ball across Valdés and in. Barcelona's new No9 almost rescued a bittersweet point with an effort off the bar, as did Touré's header against the upright. Yet this Russian triumph was as deserved as it was surprising.