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Both teams finished with ten men as FC Rubin Kazan held Levante UD to a goalless draw in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-16 encounter in Valencia.
Despite dominating for long periods, the Granotes failed to make the most of several openings in a contest that brought red cards for Cristian Ansaldi and Míchel in the space of two second-half minutes. The visitors, meanwhile, will take heart from a dogged display and a fervent finish, which almost culminated in an unlikely victory.
The home side were first out of the blocks and came close to breaking the deadlock when Sergio Ballesteros' venomous strike came back off the crossbar following José Barkero's corner. Míchel's whipped ball across goal then failed to find a team-mate, before Obafemi Martins' long-range effort stung the fingertips of visiting goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov.
Rubin, who vanquished holders Club Atlético de Madrid in the round of 32, took time to settle and had to wait until half an hour in to make their mark, with bustling striker José Rondón twice going close. Levante's response was swift, Pedro López scurrying down the wing and teeing up Míchel, whose back-post header was blocked by Ryzhikov.
The start of the second half was marred by quick-fire dismissals. Rubin defender Ansaldi was first to go for a second bookable offence, before Míchel received a straight red card. Undeterred, Barkero flashed a shot narrowly over, and a Martins chance was snuffed out by Ryzhikov following a neat one-two.
With time running out, the hosts were almost hit with a sucker punch as Rondón rattled the bar with a header and Bebras Natcho's left-footed strike found the base of the upright. Juan Ignacio Martínez's side held their nerve, though, to extend their unbeaten home run to six European matches.
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