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St Gallen kick off with Kuban scalp

FC St Gallen 2-0 FC Kuban Krasnodar
Jeff Saibene's side took another Russian scalp as second-half goals from Goran Karanovic and Marco Mathys earned an opening win in Group A.

Matías Vitkieviez celebrates St Gallen's victory
Matías Vitkieviez celebrates St Gallen's victory ©Getty Images

FC St Gallen started their 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage campaign in positive fashion with a 2-0 home win against FC Kuban Krasnodar.

St Gallen eliminated FC Spartak Moskva 5-3 on aggregate in the play-offs, and poacher's efforts in the second half from Goran Karanovic and Marco Mathys ensured that they enjoyed another encounter with Russian opposition.

A predominantly cautious first period burst briefly to life 18 minutes in, when Kuban's lively Gheorghe Bucur flashed wide from range. Roberto Rodriguez then had the chance to give the hosts a half-time lead, pouncing on uncertain defending and forcing Kuban goalkeeper Aleksandr Belenov into a low stop.

Led by the energetic Rodriguez, St Gallen shook off their shackles and took the game to their opponents. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder had his early angled shot saved, but his whipped delivery from the left on 56 minutes proved much trickier. Hesitancy cost Belenov, who spilled the ball at the feet of Karanovic and allowed the midfielder to gleefully stab over the line.

Rodriguez soon showcased his creativity again, finding Karanovic with a chip over the defence, but a flying Belenov blocked the resulting header at point-blank range.

Bucur sent another long-range strike fizzing past the post, but that was as good as it got for Kuban, who were two down on 76 minutes. An identikit cross from the left seemed to leave the visiting defence frozen, and Mathys darted in to poke the ball inside Belenov's near post and put the three points beyond doubt.

Compounding Kuban's misery, Charles Kaboré was subsequently dismissed in added time after picking up a second yellow card.