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N'Doye gets FCK up and running against Rubin

FC København 1-0 FC Rubin Kazan
Dame N'Doye's late header earned the Danish champions all three points upon their return to the group stage.

N'Doye gets FCK up and running against Rubin
N'Doye gets FCK up and running against Rubin ©UEFA.com

Four years after their last appearance FC København announced their return to the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 1-0 win against FC Rubin Kazan, Dame N'Doye heading in with three minutes to go.

FCK coach Ståle Solbakken had predicted a 1-0 win for his charges to start Group D but for much of the game it seemed he would only be correct in backing their ability to keep a clean sheet. They needed time to settle into the encounter too as the Russian titleholders made a dynamic start, yet they battled their way back and ultimately snatched all three points, N'Doye rising highest to direct Martin Vingaard's free-kick in off the far post.

Despite arriving with a reputation for counterattacking football, Rubin quickly set a bustling tempo, Christian Noboa having a shot deflected over and Johan Wiland required to turn Salvatore Bocchetti's volley wide after the centre-back had latched onto a Vitali Kaleshin cross.

Swedish international goalkeeper Wiland then had to dive low to deny marauding left-back Cristian Ansaldi, before FCK's first chance fell to Martin Vingaard, who fired too high. A skimming header from Mikael Antonsson straight at Sergei Ryzhikov restored the balance in terms of chances and it also seemed to calm the home side, even if the more potent probing still came from their opponents.

What the Danish champions lacked in fluidity they nonetheless made up for in audacity as an inswinging Martin Vingaard corner curled goalwards until Ryzhikov palmed the ball away. That proved the last spark of a first half short on obvious chances, but Kaleshin announced the second with an effort that fizzed narrowly over from in front of goal.

Both teams were clearly determined to kick off with maximum points and Kvist gave encouragement to the Parken Stadion faithful despite driving low and directly at Ryzhikov. The enthusiasm was evident in both camps, with only an injury to Bocchetti – who went off – interrupting an energetic encounter, yet any midfield guile on show seemed to be fading from the game.

A veteran of FCK's last campaign at this level, Jesper Grønkjær sent Ryzhikov sprawling to his left with a swerving strike from distance, but most of his team's openings were coming from set-pieces and failing to find a team-mate until Vingaard and N'Doye combined to leave the locals in superb voice at the whistle. They will now be hoping for a similar outcome at Panathinaikos FC in two weeks' time, when Rubin will be reunited with FC Barcelona.