Rubin keep Barcelona at bay again

FC Rubin Kazan 1-1 FC Barcelona
Kurban Berdyev's side held Barcelona at home again, David Villa equalising with a second-half spot kick.

FC Barcelona's UEFA Champions League struggles against FC Rubin Kazan continued as David Villa's second-half penalty earned the visitors a Group D point in Russia.

Rubin took the lead on the half-hour mark when Christian Noboa converted a penalty following a challenge by Daniel Alves on Vitali Kaleshin. Barcelona struggled to break through a resolute Rubin defence and despite monopolising possession Josep Guardiola's team were forced to rely on a spot kick of their own, converted by David Villa on 60 minutes.

The Spanish titleholders have not beaten Rubin in three meetings now, and will look to return to winning ways in their double-header against FC København, while Rubin meet Panathinaikos FC.

Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev, like he did in both meetings with Barcelona last season, set his stall out to frustrate the visitors, a tactic which worked from the outset. On the few occasions the Azulgrana managed to breach the wall of maroon, poor finishing let them down. Pedro Rodríguez was culpable on more than one occasion, first firing against the bar before contriving to miss from close range following slick approach play involving Gerard Piqué and Villa.

The home side were content to defend in numbers, but their only foray deep into opposition territory was rewarded as the lively Kaleshin was felled by Alves, allowing captain Noboa to score his first UEFA Champions League goal.

Rubin continued to thwart the visitors after the break, so much so that Guardiola sent on Lionel Messi, fit again after his ankle injury. Just as he was preparing to enter the fray, however, Lasha Salukvadze fouled Andrés Iniesta and Villa struck Barcelona's 400th goal in the European Champion Clubs' Cup.

The introduction of Messi gave the visitors a dynamism they had been lacking as they sought to attack at pace. Yet for all their domination the hosts could so easily have stolen the points with four minutes to go when substitute Obafemi Martins hit the post from close range following Kaleshin's cross.

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