"We gave so much that after beating the best team in the world we had no strength to celebrate." Sergei Ryzhikov
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Few gave FC Rubin Kazan much hope of coming away from this matchday three encounter with any more than a footballing lesson: they were taking on the reigning European club champions after all. Yet from the moment Aleksandr Ryazantsev thumped a spectacular shot past Víctor Valdés after 120 seconds mission impossible was on the cards.
Even after Zlatan Ibrahimović equalised early in the second half, Rubin remained undaunted, Gökdeniz Karadeniz firing the visitors back in front 17 minutes from time. Kurban Berdyev's side then withstood the late barrage to lower the Azulgrana's colours against all the odds.
Unbeaten in nine UEFA Champions League matches Barcelona lined up with an enviable attacking force including Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Pedro Rodríguez, Lionel Messi and Ibrahimović. But if the home fans were anticipating an early goal, they cannot have imagined it going against them. The Camp Nou was silenced as Ryazantsev pounced on a rare moment of indecision in the Barcelona midfield to unleash a ferocious drive from fully 35 metres.
The Russian titleholders were not, perhaps as surprised as their hosts: they had taken the lead against FC Internazionale Milano in their previous Group F outing. Then they had failed to hold on to their lead and they would have been pegged back within two minutes bat the Camp Nou but for the agility of goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov, who somehow flicked Ibrahimović's effort wide.
Barcelona were piling on the pressure. Daniel Alves's long shot flashed wide, Pedro and Messi were thwarted by Ryzhikov. The dam finally burst two minutes into the second half when Ibrahimović latched on to Xavi's cunning pass and lashed it across the goalkeeper.
It seemed inevitable Josep Guardiola's side would now take control. Pedro, Messi and Ibrahimović all came close but, against the run of play, they conceded again when Alejandro Domínguez launched a counterattack which was finished off by the quicksilver Karadeniz.
There was still time for the hosts to respond but they could find no way past the human force-field that was Ryzhikov. Even when beaten, the keeper was saved by the crossbar and post, which respectively denied Ibrahimović, on 77 minutes, and Yaya Touré, in the final throes.
Yet it was another man Berdyev opted to single out. "Domínguez worked so hard at closing down their holding midfielder," he said. "That was key. Without him, I don't think we would have won."