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VfL Wolfsburg coach Lorenz-Günther Köstner said he did not panic when his side fell behind at FC Rubin Kazan after the visitors came back to draw 1-1 through Zvjezdan Misimović's equaliser in the meeting of the reigning German and Russia champions.
Christian Noboa headed Rubin in front just before the half-hour but on a freezing Kazan night Wolfsburg got stronger as the game went on and the excellent Zvjezdan Misimović struck a fine equaliser with 23 minutes to go, and nearly forced a winner. Köstner's side will have the initiative when the UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie is decided in Germany next Thursday and the coach was always sure they would earn that chance.
"Rubin dominated the first half – they knew the pitch and were more used to the cold," Köstner said. "That is why we did not have much possession in the first half. At that point I hoped my team could resist the pressure from Rubin. But I realised that we had a good chance even before Rubin scored. In the second half we raised the spirit of the team, started to control the ball and get up to Rubin's speed."
Köstner, who praised the performances of Marwin Hitz in goal and Sascha Riether and Alexander Madlund in defence, has special words for the pair that combined to equalise, Edin Džeko and Misimović. "I cannot imagine the team without Misimović," the coach said. "Together with Džeko they are the main force in the team." But Köstner remains cautious. "In Germany there will be a very dangerous situation. You saw how Rubin attack, and they will do the same in the second game. We have to be prepared for it."
His opposite number Kurban Berdyev rued his side's inability to make their first-half pressure tell more than once. "It was a difficult match, just as we expected," the Rubin coach said. "Unfortunately we did not take our chances. Generally I am happy with the way the team played. We gave away the initiative in the second half."
Berdyev added: "We felt the absence of [suspended] Sergei Semak. In the second half we were trying to hold the lead, but we got tired and made some mistakes in defence. Hasan Kabze did a very good job. Do not forget that we have played against the German champions, a very able and organised team. Everything will be decided next week in Germany."
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