A superb free-kick from Russian international Roman Pavlyuchenko earned Tottenham Hotspur FC a narrow victory against FC Rubin Kazan and sent the hosts two points clear at the top of UEFA Europa League Group A.
Pavlyuchenko scored just past the half-hour mark to secure Tottenham's second consecutive home victory in the competition. Rubin were left to rue missing some early chances but were unlucky not to be rewarded for their second-half pressure.
Despite playing Nelson Valdez as a lone striker, the Russian side soon made it clear they had not come to defend. Captain Roman Sharonov glanced wide from Bebras Natcho's corner and Gökdeniz Karadeniz forced a superb close-range save from Heurelho Gomes with a header from Christiano Noboa's cross.
Aside from a Jermain Defoe shot that fizzed across the face of goal, the home crowd had little to cheer before taking the lead. Sharonov felled Danny Rose on the edge of the penalty area and Pavlyuchenko rifled his shot into the top right corner. He nearly had a second just before the break but his curling shot was turned round the post by Sergey Ryzhikov.
Rubin continued to attack after the break, with Aleksandr Ryazantsev drawing another fine save from Gomes on 55 minutes before former Newcastle United FC striker Obafemi Martins was sent on just past the hour.
Noboa and Ryazantsev both tried their luck as Rubin looked for an equaliser, while Ryzhikov had to make a smart save to stop Defoe's header after clever work by Aaron Lennon. Martins might well have earned Rubin a point were it not for a last-ditch block by substitute Younès Kaboul as Spurs held on to all three.
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