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UEFA Champions League: Barcelona Plays to a Draw

Rubin Kazan again proved themselves to be the team that Barcelona can’t seem to beat as they fought the Spanish champs to a 1-1 draw at home Wednesday.  The Russian champions iron curtain defense held strong for 90 plus minutes in the face of Barcelona’s storied and much feared attack.  The only two goals of the match came in the form of penalty kicks, the first taken by Cristian Noboa for Kazan in the 30th minute and the second half an hour later by David Villa for Barcelona.

Villa had been involved when the visiting side missed an early chance to take the lead, as he provided an excellent through ball for Pedro who chipped his shot into the crossbar in the 12th minute.  Villa missed another opportunity in the 26th minute when he flashed his shot across goal just wide of the far post.

A moment later Vitali Kaleshin could have opened the scoring in the other direction when he found space on the left flank only to send his shot wildly off target.  Two minutes later it would be Kaleshin who was brought down in the area by Dani Alves resulting in a penalty kick being awarded to the home side.

Noboa stepped up to the mark and blasted the ball past Victor Valdez making it 1-0 for Rubin Kazan.  As the first half entered its final fifteen minutes Barcelona again found themselves trailing to the Russian side who’d handed them a surprise home defeat in last years Champions League group stage.

Barcelona dominated possession throughout the half but seemed to struggle to create chances without Lionel Messi who was on the bench.  Dani Alves chipped the ball into the box for Villa in the 34th minute but the striker failed to get hold of a proper shot.

Pedro again came close to scoring in the 43rd minute when he shot from close range and slotted it just wide of the near post.  A minute later Barca were awarded a freekick which was sent into the area by Xavi Hernandez and ultimately pounced on by Kazan keeper Sergei Ryzhikov.

The last chance of the first half fell to Noboa a moment later who shot on target from distance only to have his effort saved by Valdez.

Barcelona started out the second half maintaining the same high level of possession they’d enjoyed during the first.  Yet even with the introduction of Lionel Messi they struggled to create chances and seemed incapable of scoring a goal from open play.  Their only goal of the match came right on the hour mark after Iniesta was brought down in the penalty area.  Barca were awarded a penalty and Villa stepped up to the mark and just succeeded in slotting the ball between the keeper and the far post to find the back of the net.

A defensive error a moment later nearly gifted Barca another goal when Dani Alves intercepted a sloppy back pass but had his shot blocked by Ryzhikov.  The Kazan keeper had a particularly good second half and kept Villa from getting hold of a headed cross from Iniesta a moment later.  Iniesta fed a through ball in for Messi in the 71st minute but Ryzhikov succeeded in blocking the Argentine’s close-range effort.

Rubin Kazan created few threats in the second half and were largely reduced to taking long range pot shots that went nowhere.  They came closest to slotting home the winner in the 87th minute when the ball was crossed in for Obafemi Martins who slammed his headed off the post.

Barcelona to could have grabbed the last minute winner when Iniesta fired a close range shot in the 92nd minute that curles just over the far post.  A moment later the final whistle was blown and Kazan remained undefeated by the Catalan giants who’ve only ever been able to manage a draw against the Russian side.


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