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Rubin pick off Inter to clinch pole in Group H

FC Rubin Kazan 3-0 FC Internazionale Milano
Two late José Rondón goals confirmed the Russian side's place at the summit, but the game hung in the balance until the 85th minute.

Rubin sealed top spot in Group H by beating Inter
Rubin sealed top spot in Group H by beating Inter ©AFP/Getty Images

FC Rubin Kazan held off a concerted fightback from an experimental FC Internazionale Milano side to seal top spot in Group H.

Gökdeniz Karadeniz's early strike set the tone for a dominant first-half performance, but the hosts were forced onto the back foot after the restart, with substitute Rodrigo Palacio hitting the post. Rubin replacement José Rondón did likewise with five minutes left, outmuscling Isaac Donkor on the break and connecting with the woodwork – his effort finished in the net, however, and the Venezuelan forward made it 3-0 in added time.

With both teams already through, this was effectively a duel for top spot and, inside 90 seconds, Rubin drew first blood. Alan Kasaev, who later limped off, led the first attack of the night and delivered a cross that was turned against his own post by defender Juan. The ball bounced back towards the penalty spot, where Karadeniz was on hand to pull the trigger.

After pleasure came pain as Roman Eremenko was helped off in obvious discomfort following a Juan challenge, but it did not knock Rubin off their stride. Karadeniz, Kasaev, Bebras Natcho and Vladimir Dyadyun were combining well and they always looked threatening going forward; only the final ball let them down.

Inter were hanging on. With Andrea Romanò making his debut in a side that included just four survivors from the team that fought back to hold the Russian outfit 2-2 on matchday one, they lacked firepower. At the interval, Andrea Stramaccioni duly turned to his big guns, bringing on Palacio and Javier Zanetti.

Suddenly the Nerazzurri were in the ascendancy, and Palacio was a whisker away from an equaliser midway through the half when he sprang the offside trap to turn Andrea Ranocchia's through ball against the upright. Coutinho also went close, while Cristian Ansaldi's timely intervention denied Palacio before Rondón's two late goals provided the deadly blow, sealing Rubin's seventh successive victory in all competitions.

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