Rubin complete mission impossible at the Camp Nou

Camp Nou, Barcelona – 20/10/2009 – Group stage
Ibrahimović 48
1 - 2
  • Ryazantsev 2
  • Gökdeniz Karadeniz 73
Tactical masterclass

"We gave so much that after beating the best team in the world we had no strength to celebrate." Sergei Ryzhikov


• Diego Milito became the fifth player to find the net twice in a UEFA Champions League final, scoring both goals in FC Internazionale Milano's 2-0 victory against FC Bayern München in Madrid.

• Maccabi Haifa FC became only the second side – after RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2004/05 – to fail to score in the group stage. The Israeli champions were eliminated without registering a point.

• Lionel Messi became the sixth player to find the net four times in a UEFA Champions League game when he scored all the goals in FC Barcelona's 4-1 win against Arsenal FC in the quarter-finals.

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."

Star players

  • Domínguez

    The skilful Argentinian playmaker spent three seasons with FC Rubin Kazan before joining FC Zenit St Petersburg in a €7m deal in 2007 – a then record between Russian clubs. He won the league and UEFA Cup before being loaned back Rubin in 2009. Domínguez was a crucial part of the title-winning side, 16 league goals earning individual acclaim with the Player of the Year award. He now plays for Valencia CF.

  • Ibrahimović

    A tall, powerful centre-forward, the Swedish international boasts pace and physicality allied to sublime skill. But it is his record of eight titles (two as Juventus were later revoked) in as many seasons with five different clubs which explains why clubs like FC Barcelona paid €46m plus Samuel Eto'o for his services in 2009. Ibrahimović lasted one season in Spain but after another title, left for AC Milan, where the customary Scudetto followed.

  • Messi

    Reared at FC Barcelona, Messi made his Liga debut aged 17 years and 114 days, and went on to become arguably the most gifted footballer of his generation. The diminutive forward needed only 153 games to reach 100 Liga goals for Barça. Twice winner of the Ballon d'Or, he has three UEFA Champions Leagues to his name and became the first player to finish top scorer in the competition in three successive campaigns in 2010/11.

What happened next?

• A fortnight later FC Rubin Kazan held FC Barcelona to a 0-0 draw in Tatarstan but another stalemate, with FC Dynamo Kyiv, and a 2-0 loss at FC Internazionale Milano consigned them to third in Group F.

• Barcelona finished top of the section, following up a 2-0 victory over Inter with a 2-1 win at Dynamo. They met the Nerazzurri again in the semi-finals but this time the Italian side prevailed, 3-2 on aggregate.

• Josep Guardiola's men took solace by winning the second of three successive Liga titles. Rubin, who reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16, completed back-to-back Russian titles.

• Fate reunited these sides the following season and Rubin again held Barcelona at home. They ended up third once more, too, behind FC København, as this time Guardiola's men won 2-0 at Camp Nou.

• Barcelona regained their UEFA Champions League crown the following season, beating Manchester United FC 3-1 at Wembley thanks to goals from Pedro Rodríguez, Lionel Messi and David Villa.


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