"Everything's up for grabs," said FC Rubin Kazan forward José Rondón after his side's 0-0 draw at Levante UD, who created "the best chances" according to Sergio Ballesteros.
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Levante UD and FC Rubin Kazan both sounded optimistic notes after playing out a goalless draw in Spain that leaves their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie in the balance ahead of next week's decider. "Everything is up for grabs in Moscow," commented Rubin forward José Rondón, who hit the woodwork in a match that brought a red card for either team. Levante's Sergio Ballesteros felt "the best chances were ours" and expected a "very difficult" second leg.
Keylor Navas, Levante goalkeeper
It was a difficult game against a team that plays and defends well. We tried to do our best and tried to win the game. We had chances, but in the end the result was 0-0. We all wanted to win and score a goal, but we think this result isn't too bad since we didn't concede at home. That'll be important if we score in Russia.
We expect the second leg to be like this one, despite Rubin playing at home and being more attacking. What we have to do is stay focused, defend well and try to take advantage of their mistakes. Rubin play a lot like us and, because of that, we had to take the initiative. I think my team-mates did well because we had opportunities, but we weren't able to take advantage of them. We hope to continue in this competition and keep dreaming, and we'll give everything to qualify for the next round.
Sergio Ballesteros, Levante defender
It was a shame that my header hit the crossbar. To take an early lead in this game against a team like Rubin would have been good. It was a game in which they dominated a little in midfield, but they didn't create problems for us. I think the best chances were ours, except for their last two openings when they pounced on our mistakes. We were looking to win.
The target in the second leg is to score a goal and qualify for the next round. We know that we will be up against very tough and powerful opposition; there's no doubt that they are going to make things very difficult for us. I think we'll have a great chance to qualify if we manage to score a goal.
José Rondón, Rubin forward
I'm upset about the moment I hit the post. We played a good game, but [Cristian Ansaldi's] sending-off changed the game a little. Still, we're happy that the tie is open and everything's up for grabs in Moscow. Neither team dominated the match, but both had chances to score. The ball didn't go in, the game was hotly contested and the tie will be decided in Moscow.
In the return match, we expect to face a Levante side playing the same style of football. We will approach the game in the same way we approach all our games, and like we approached Club Atlético de Madrid [in the round of 32]. We will play the second leg with the same mindset and the same desire. Our league season is about to begin again as well, and hopefully that will give us more rhythm.
It was difficult to find space between Levante's lines, but at the end I had a good chance with a header. We had to take advantage of the few spaces they left us.