Two well-taken goals from Aleksandr Bukharov inspired FC Rubin Kazan to a convincing victory in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, ending a run of four home draws in Europe for the Russian champions.
The Tatarstan club's record of not having won at home since July 2007 never looked like being prolonged once Bukharov had put the hosts ahead after 14 minutes. He capped a terrific opening with a second nine minutes later and played a role in setting up Sergei Semak for the third midway through the second half, leaving Hapoel with it all to do in next Thursday's decider.
Playing competitively for the first time since UEFA Champions League Matchday 6, Rubin showed no sign of rustiness with a blistering start in -14C temperatures. They threatened first when Bukharov forced Vincent Enyeama to race off his line to prevent danger, and from the resulting follow-up Rafał Murawski fired over. Bukharov then tested the Hapoel goalkeeper from the edge of the area before breaching the visitors' defence with a sublime piece of skill, flicking the ball over Walid Badir, rounding Enyeama and keeping his composure from the ever-narrowing angle.
The Rubin No11 was proving irrepressible and, having had another effort disallowed, he doubled the lead by volleying a skied defensive clearance past Enyeama from close range. Somewhat taken aback, it was not until the 33rd minute that Hapoel registered their first effort on goal, Etey Shechter's low attempt easily dealt with by Sergei Ryzhikov. Rubin lost Aleksandr Ryazantsev to injury five minutes before half-time, though it did little to loosen the hosts' grip on proceedings.
Hapoel were seeking their 100th goal in UEFA club competition yet, aside from a speculative attempt from Bebars Natcho, were producing little to warm their small band of travelling supporters. Semak all but ended their hopes of progress 21 minutes from time, finishing into the unguarded net after Enyeama had wandered off his line to close down Bukharov.