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Emboldened by his first goals for the club, Sergei Kornilenko told UEFA.com that FC Rubin Kazan have a first Group D victory in their sights as Panathinaikos FC come calling in UEFA Champions League.
Having joined the Russian champions on loan from FC Zenit St. Petersburg, Belarus international Kornilenko ended an eight-game domestic and European scoreless run for his new club with both goals in Friday's 2-0 victory at PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara. "It was a relief," he said. "To start with, I lacked a little understanding with my team-mates, sometimes luck and sometimes the right skills. Rubin really expected goals when they took me on loan, so now I feel much better."
Kornilenko and Rubin drew a blank when they visited Panathinaikos on Matchday 3, with the 0-0 leaving both sides without a win in the section. Tuesday would certainly be a great time for the 27-year-old to score his first UEFA Champions League goal, and he felt optimistic. "We are no worse than Panathinaikos and we can beat them, especially with our fans behind us," said Kornilenko, who was brought in as a temporary replacement for Aleksandr Bukharov following his move to Zenit.
Rubin rode their luck late on to secure a stalemate in Athens two weeks ago, but achieved their primary objective. "Our first aim there was not to concede," explained Kornilenko, who scored 11 goals in 15 games on loan at his old club FC Tom Tomsk in the spring. "However, we were not playing for a draw. We wanted to win but I think we played a little too cautiously."
Having emerged unscathed from that game, Rubin must push on if they are to challenge for the top places in Group D. After kicking off with a 1-0 loss at FC København, they drew 1-1 at home against FC Barcelona on Matchday 2 and now need to start racking up points, at home against Panathinaikos and FCK, before the return fixture at Camp Nou on Matchday 6. "We want six points from these games, but even if we succeed, qualification will probably not be in our hands," conceded Kornilenko.
The gravity of Rubin's situation will not, however, detract from the former FC Dinamo Minsk, FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk player's delight at finally experiencing football at the very top level. "This is a very positive phase in my career," Kornilenko said of his first UEFA Champions League experience. "It is very different from the Russian league. There, you know every club, while in Europe everything is new for me."
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