After FC Rubin Kazan once again defied expectation to claim a goalless draw from the visit of FC Barcelona, forward Aleksandr Bukharov predicted "everything will be decided" in Group F on Matchday 6.
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Having once again upset the odds to claim a creditable goalless draw with FC Barcelona and simultaneously enhance their UEFA Champions League Group F credentials, FC Rubin Kazan forward Aleksandr Bukharov insisted the Russian champions are "not afraid" of competing at Europe's top table.
On a freezing Wednesday night, Rubin stood firm to deny the holders for the second successive match, having claimed a remarkable 2-1 win at Camp Nou on Matchday 3. Barcelona dominated possession but found opportunities at a premium and Rubin's goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov in fine fettle. Bukharov came off the bench to replace Gökdeniz Karadeniz on 62 minutes and prompted a more attacking outlook from the hosts, twice going close to breaking the deadlock. It was not to be, but another point for Rubin leaves them second in their section and well poised to progress against all expectations.
"Before the game our coach [Kurban Berdyev] told me that I'd come on during the second half," Bukharov said. "He just asked me to improve our attack. You don't need extra motivation when you face Barcelona. Of course, we didn't expect to take four points in two matches against Barça. You saw it yourself; the right tactics allow you to beat any opponent. We are not afraid of Inter now, as we proved we can play decent football against any side.
"We are in a tough group," he continued. "I think all four teams have pretty equal chances of qualifying. I believe everything will be decided in the last round." Lasha Salukvadze's stoic defending was once again integral to Rubin's success, but the Georgian was keen to spread the praise. "Not just me - the whole team defended great. Thanks to our fans and all my team-mates. We even had two chances to open the score through Bukharov. Barcelona had chances too, but thank God, they were wasteful."
The draw in Russia and FC Internazionale Milano's late win against FC Dynamo Kyiv leaves Barça third in their section, captain Carles Puyol admitting they face a battle to restore the natural order. "Barcelona are a club that always plays for victory," he said. "We tried to achieve that tonight, but couldn't. Now we are in a really tough situation ahead of the last two group stage matches. Of course, we wanted a different scenario. However, considering how the match went, I can't say I'm disappointed with the draw."