Mar 7, 2013 at 8.05pm UK at ​Estadi Ciutat de Valencia
Levante
0-0
Rubin Kazan
 
FT

Live Commentary: Levante 0-0 Rubin Kazan - as it happened

Estadi Ciutat de Valencia
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live commentary of the first leg of the last-16 Europa League clash in Valencia as Levante and Rubin Kazan play out a goalless draw.

Levante welcomed Rubin Kazan to Valencia on Thursday in the first leg of their last-16 clash in the Europa League.

The Spanish outfit had the better of the chances in the first period, but neither side could make the breakthrough.

Rubin were reduced to 10 men early in the second period when Cristian Ansaldi was given his marching orders, but Michel quickly followed him off the pitch for the home side.

Levante pushed for the opener in the latter stages, but could not find the elusive strike, with the tie level at 0-0 ahead of the second leg.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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7.01pmEvening all! Well, the Champions League has taken centre stage this week. But Europe’s other competition is back with us and there are some fantastic matches in the offing. Here, Levante will attempt to gain a first-leg advantage as they welcome Rubin Kazan to Valencia. In addition, we have a number of Europa League ties to bring you this evening.

7.04pmDespite advancing to this stage of the competition, neither Levante nor Rubin have particularly impressed in their respective leagues this season. Levante currently occupy 11th spot in the table, having taken 35 points from their 26 matches. That said, they are just seven points off the top four.

7.07pmThey have managed just five points from their last six games, however, which has taken them from a team capable of finishing inside the top six, to a team struggling to remain in the top half of the table. It remains to be seen whether they will prioritise this competition should they advance to the latter stages.

7.10pmLevante are yet to lose at home in what has been their debut season in the Europa League, which will fill them full of confidence ahead of this particular match. It would probably be fair to state that they need to take a lead into the second leg if they are to advance, but they will be wary of what Rubin did to Atletico in Spain in the previous round.

7.13pmHere’s a word from Levante midfielder Vicente Iborra prior to the match. He told the club’s official website: “Our goal is to get as far as possible. We are not favourites. It is our first participation in Europe and they have much more experience than us. We do not know when we will return to play in Europe. Hopefully it will be very soon. We must seize this opportunity." Right the team news is just filtering through.

7.16pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Levante boss Juan Ignacio hands a start to Obafemi Martins against his former club, with Ruben Garcia joining the Nigerian in attack. Iborra also starts in midfield, but there is no starting role for Pedro Rios, who takes his place on the bench. Rubin, meanwhile, are as expected with Rondon paired with Kasev in attack. Their only surprise sees Alexei Eremenko start on the bench.

7.19pmTEAMS:

LEVANTE: Navas; Navarro, Juanfran, Lopez, Ballesteros; Diop, Iborra, Barkero, Michel; Garcia, Martins

RUBIN: Ryzhikov; Kuzmin, Ansaldi, Marcano, Sharonov; Orbiaz, Eremenko, Karadeniz, Natcho; Kasaev, Rondon


7.22pmAs mentioned, the Spanish outfit have a player in the shape of Obafemi Martins who has previously played for the Russian outfit. Iborra has revealed that the Nigerian’s knowledge has helped them prepare for such an occasion. He added: “He told us how to play and how we can hurt them. He told us that is a very physical team, very well built and leverages the opportunities created in attack."

7.25pmRubin, however, enter the match having not lost in four away games in the competition. They knocked out holders Atletico Madrid in the previous round having won the first leg 2-0 in the Vicente Calderon. That result is all the more stunning when you take into account Atletico’s perfect home form in Spain this season. But can Rubin repeat that performance this evening?


7.28pmFor our readers not too familiar with the Russian outfit, let me bring you up to speed with a couple of facts and figures. Rubin were formed in 1958, but they did not join the upper regions of the Russian league until 2003, with their first title coming in 2008.

7.31pmRubin impressed in the 2009/2010 season in the Champions League when they took four points off Barcelona including a famous 2-1 win in the Camp Nou. However, they eventually finished third in that particular group, a position that they also occupied in the 2010/2011 season. It would be their finest campaign if they were to secure European success this time around.

7.34pmHowever, to suggest that Rubin were in a poor run of form in their domestic division prior to the three-month break in Russia would be putting it kindly. The Russian outfit have not won a league match since November 17 when they were 2-0 winners over Alaniya. Their next league match takes place this weekend when they host Zenit.

7.37pmThey had won seven matches in a row between October and November, but since that period they have struggled for any sort of form. Perhaps they are focusing all their attention on success in the Europa League, which certainly worked in the previous round. As mentioned, they currently sit seventh in the table, 12 points behind leaders CSKA Moscow.

7.40pmLet’s take a look at how both sides made it to this stage of the competition. Levante finished second in Group L, with Hannover advancing as winners and Helsingborgs and Twente exiting the competition. They won three of their six matches, drawing twice. Meanwhile, they scored 10 goals and conceded five in that period.

7.43pmThey opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Helsingborg, before losing 2-1 to Hannover in Germany. They recovered with a 3-0 win over Twente in Spain, before drawing the return match 0-0. A positive result followed with a 3-1 win over Helsingborg in Sweden, before they drew their final group match 2-2 with Hannover. They advanced from the previous round with victory over Olympiacos.

7.46pmRubin, meanwhile, topped Group H ahead of Inter Milan, with Partizan and Neftci eliminating the tournament. They won four of their six matches, drawing twice. Meanwhile, they scored 10 times and conceded just three in the process. A record which certainly drew attention from across Europe.

7.49pmThey opened the campaign with a 2-2 draw away to Inter before picking up a 2-0 win over Partizan in Russia. Back-to-back 1-0 wins over Neftci then followed, before they thumped Inter Milan 3-0 on their own patch. They finished the campaign with a respectable 1-1 draw in Belgrade to ensure that they topped their section, before overcoming Atletico Madrid in the last-32 stage.

7.52pmRight, just about 10 minutes until kickoff on this mild evening in Valencia. Let me just bring you up-to-date with what has happened in the Europa League thus far and what is come this evening. Anzhi and Newcastle played out a goalless draw earlier this afternoon, while Viktoria Plzen were defeated 1-0 by Fenerbahce, Steaua Bucuresti overcome Chelsea 1-0 and Lazio were 2-0 winners against Stuttgart.

7.55pmAlongside this match, Basel welcome Zenit, Benfica host Bordeaux and Inter Milan travel to Bordeaux in arguably the tie of the round. There is not one clear favourite among the remaining teams, which makes the competition all the more enthralling. Be sure to remain with us as the evening's events unfold.

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7.58pmJust about five minutes from kickoff which can only mean one thing, time for my pre-match prediction. I do not expect to see too many goals this evening, therefore I am backing a 1-1 draw. Rubin have had success in Spain this season, however, when they overcame Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last-32 clash.

8.02pmHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. Following the completion of the pre-match handshakes and the exchanging of flags we will be ready to get the action underway. Just a reminder that nothing will be decided this evening with the second leg to come in Russia next week.

0 minJust a reminder of the main team news this evening. Martins starts for Levante against his former club, with the Nigerian joined in attack by Ruben Garcia. However, Pedro Rios is on the bench. Rubin, meanwhile, pair Rondon and Kasaev in the final third. Here we go then. The home side get the action underway.

2 minNot a full house inside the stadium by any stretch of the imagination but there is a good atmosphere this evening with the home supporter making their voices known. Levante attempt to force the issue straight from kickoff as Barkero collects possession before sliding a pass towards Martins, but it moves out of play for a goal kick.

4 minCROSSBAR! Again the home side create a half-chance as Juanfran's high ball into the penalty area is collected by Ruben, but Kuzmin is across to clear at the vital moment. The resulting corner is whipped into the penalty area by Barkero, but Ballesteros can only thump his header off the crossbar. What an opportunity.

6 minRubin just have not settled into this match thus far with the likes of Orbaiz - one of two Spaniards in the team this evening - and Eremenko unable to keep hold of the possession. Rondon will undoubtedly provide the threat in the final third, but it has been all Levante in the opening six minutes of this Europa League contest.

8 minSlightly bitty period to the match in the last couple of minutes with the referee called into action to deal with a number of fouls. Slightly better from Rubin in terms of possession, however, as Rondon looks for the run of Kasaev, but Navas comes out to collect at the vital moment. Decent tempo in the early stages of this match.

10 minCHANCE! Another fine chance comes to the home side as Ruben advances into the box before firing a low cross towards Martins, but the Nigerian just could not make contact. Another strike comes from distance moments later, but Martins's effort is collected by Ryzhikov.

12 minThe home side continue to force the issue in advanced areas as Iborra combines with Barkero before striking towards goal, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. Rubin just need to settle with possession for a couple of minutes, but the pressure from Levante has been strong in the opening 12 minutes. Still no goals on the evening.

14 minAnother half-chance comes to the home side as Ruben drives into the penalty area, but once more there are no takers on his cross into the box. A corner follows moments later, but Marcano heads clear under pressure from Diop. All one-way traffic at the moment, but Rubin are fairly comfortable in defensive areas as things stand.

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16 minEnd-to-end football in the last couple of moments as Rondon flashes an attempt wide for the away side before Iborra advances into the Rubin box down the other end. There are plenty of suggestions that both teams are prepared to attack, but the quality of the final pass has been lacking thus far.

18 minAnother long-range attempt comes from Iborra, but the Rubin goalkeeper is comfortable dealing with the danger. It is difficult to determine what is a good result away from home in a two-legged affair. Would Rubin be happy with 0-0? In my opinion, an away goal is everything.

20 minBetter from Rubin in the last couple of moments as Natcho advances down the right before driving a low cross into the box, but Juanfran makes the clearance. It falls to Karadeniz outside the box, but the midfielder just could not make proper contact with his effort. It is an open contest, but not too many clear chances to get excited about.

22 minRubin have just taken control of the possession in the last few minutes with Orbiaz and Eremenko prepared to join the attack further up the pitch. Plenty of nice touches, but you would not say that Levante have really be worried inside the opening 22 minutes. It is the type of match that could really do with a goal in order to spice things up.

24 minAgain it's good work from Rondon as the Rubin striker drives into the box before chipping a cross to the far post, but Kuzmin can only clip wide of the post. Levante counter down the other end with Martins, but his cross is headed behind for a corner. The resulting set piece is taken by Barkero, but the danger is cleared.

27 minSlightly bitty period to the match in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of a host of fouls in the opposing half. The tempo of the passing remains of a high standard, but there is no real probing in the final third. The best chance of the match remains the header from Ballesteros, which rattled the crossbar in the early stages. Aside from that, not too much to get excited about.

29 minSlight problem for Pedro Lopez as the Levante defender a kick in the groin, but after a period of treatment he is deemed fit to continue. Quite a painful one for the Spaniard. Just a side note, it is pleasing to see eight Spaniards in the Levante side this evening. Rubin, however, have just four Russians in their starting team.

31 minLittle under 15 minutes of the first period to play and the score remains 0-0. Neither side has particularly dominated possession with both enjoying their own spells with the ball. A half-chance does arrive for the Russian outfit as Sharanov whips a dangerous cross into the box, but Navas is on hand to palm over his own crossbar.

33 minFirst real sign of Rondon as the striker picks up possession outside the box before thumping an effort towards the top corner, but it was always rising over the crossbar. Barkero has a similar effort down the other end, but Ryzhikov comes a long way to collect under pressure from Martins.

35 minAnother half-chance comes to Levante as Martins collects a pass from Ruben before advancing into the box, but the Nigerian is immediately surrounded by three defenders. Rubin force a free kick down the other end as Diop fells Marcano, but Natcho strikes the resulting set piece over the crossbar.

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38 minCHANCE! Just about the clearest chance of the match for the away side as Rondon beats the offside trap before advancing into the box, but he just takes the ball wide at the vital moment, with his shot straight into the arms of Navas. That has been Rubin's main threat thus far.

40 minIt is almost as if Rubin have started to believe that they can win this match with the Russian outfit now playing the better football. They force two free kicks outside the box in quick succession, but the delivery from Natcho is poor on each occasion. Nothing much from Levante in the last couple of moments with Martins cutting an isolated figure.

43 minIt is all ever so laboured from the home side at the moment with Barkero and Iborra both attempting high balls into the penalty area, but Ryzhikov comes to collect on each occasion. Rondon remains a threat down the other end as he turns Ballesteros on the edge of the box, but Lopez is across on the cover.

45 minRubin again threaten in the latter stages as Natcho whips another free kick into the box, but Juanfran heads clear before Eremenjo picks up a booking for a foul on Barkero down the other end. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute of stoppage time at the end of the half.

45 min+1CHANCE! Glorious chance for the home side in the latter stages of the half as Michel meets a cross from Barkero at the far post, but he can only head at the goalkeeper from close range. What an opportunity moments before the interval.

45 min+1HALF-TIME: Levante 0-0 Rubin Kazan

8.52pmSo there we have it. The home side have had the better of the chances in the opening period, but neither team has been able to make the breakthrough. In truth, a 0-0 draw in the first leg would not be the worst result in the world for either team this evening.

8.56pmSTATISTICS: The away side have dominated the possession with 65%, while they have had six attempts to Levante's three. However, the home team have created the best two chances of the match with Ballesteros rattling the crossbar early on and Michel heading straight at the Rubin goalkeeper in first-half stoppage time.

9pmBENCH WATCH: The home side have a host of attacking options on the bench in the shape of Valdo and Acquafresca. Meanwhile, Rubin have the likes of Tore and Arlauskis in reserve. There are certainly some goals in that list.

9.04pmLet me just bring up-to-date with the other half-time scores in the Europa League this evening. Basel and Zenit are tied at 0-0 at the interval, while Benfica are 1-0 ahead against Bordeaux. Tottenham have been the star performers of the night thus far, however, with Andre Villas-Boas's side leading Inter Milan 2-0 at White Hart Lane.


46 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. No changes for either side at the interval which is perhaps not too surprising at this stage of events. Let's hope for more clear chances in the second period. The away side get the action underway.

48 minStrong start to the second period from the away side as Natcho combines with Rondon before striking an effort from outside the box, but it was always moving wide of the post. Levante create a chance of their own moments later as Martins strikes from all of 30 yards, but it never had enough power to really worry for the goalkeeper.

50 minAnother half-chance comes to Rubin as a cross from Orbiaz causes all sorts of problems in the penalty area, but Kasaev can only head wide from close range. The end-to-end period of the match continues as Levante force three players into the box, but Michel heads over under pressure from Kuzmin. High-tempo opening five minutes to this half.

52 minRubin have certainly started the second period with more pace and purpose about their attacking play, but aside from Rondon, they do not really possess a player capable of running behind the Levante defence. Again Natcho is involved as he plays a high cross into the box, but the experienced Juanfran deals with the danger at the far post.

55 minRED CARD! Ansaldi is dismissed for Rubin following a challenge with Ballesteros. The Argentine delays the process by receiving treatment from the medical team, but he is given his marching orders when he rises to his feet. That is a big blow for the Russian outfit. The away side respond with a change as Kasaev is replaced by Kaleshin for the remaining 35 minutes of this match.

57 minRED CARD! Oh my word! Levante are reduced to 10 men moments later as Michel makes a horror challenge on Karadeniz. That is an absolute disgrace from the Spaniard, with the Rubin midfielder stretched off the pitch. Well, this second half has certainly been more eventful.

59 minHalf-chance for the home side as Martins advances into the box before striking an effort from close range, but it moves behind for a corner. The resulting set piece causes all sorts of problems in the box, but Ballesteros can only head wide from close range. It is all happening at the moment.

61 minIt is all one-way traffic at the moment as the home side continue to force the issue in the final third, but there is just no way through this stern Rubin defence. The two red cards seems to have raised Levante, while Rubin look as if they have been caught in the headlights. Little under 30 minutes of football remaining.

63 minLevante continue to dominate possession as they pass and probe outside the Rubin box. A half-chance does come to Barkero as the Spaniard strikes a powerful effort from outside the box, but it was always moving high and wide of the crossbar. Surely the opening goal is on its way? Rubin really need to take control of the possession.

65 minPass, pass, pass from the home side as they work the ball from left to right, but there is a reason why Rubin have such an impressive away record in this competition. Another half-chance arrives as Sharonov chops Barkero down outside the penalty area, but Barkero fires the resulting free kick over the crossbar.

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68 minReally positive goalkeeping from Ryzhikov as the Russian comes to collect two crosses in quick succession, but that does not relieve the pressure for too long. Still no movement on the Levante bench, although I suspect that will change in the next five minutes or so. Little over 20 minutes of football remaining and the score stays at 0-0.

70 minCHANCE! Rubin come close to taking the lead as Rondon darts unchallenged into the penalty area, but the experienced Ballesteros is across to clear at the vital moment. Meanwhile, the home side do indeed make their first change of the match as Rios replaces Diop, who had picked up a booking in the first period.

73 minDesperate defending from the away side at the moment as Marcano is forced to make two clearances in quick succession. The pressure is all coming from the home side, but they have not really created too many clear chances in the second period. Will we have late drama in Valencia? Little over 15 minutes remaining.

75 minThe referee is having much more of an involvement in the second period as he the fouls continue to fly in from both sides. It was not the case in the first period, but there really has been some ill-feeling in this half. Another free kick comes from Barkero, but once more it is high and wide of the crossbar.

78 minMarcano is a very lucky boy there as he kicks out at Martins following a challenge between the pair, but the referee takes no further action. That could quite easily have been the third red card of the patch. On the whole, neither side would be too disappointed if the first leg ended 0-0. It would leave things wide open.

80 minHalf-chance for the away side this time as Natcho strikes an effort from distance, but it was always moving high and wide of the crossbar. Right, we have little over 10 minutes of football remaining, with Levante still on the attack. Will we have late drama here?

82 minCHANCE! Wonderful chance for Martins to score against his former club as he collects a pass from Iborra before driving into the box, but Marcano comes across at the vital moment to deny the Nigerian. That is sensational from the Ruben defender. The score remains goalless.

84 minAnother half-chance comes to Martins as the striker meets a bouncing ball on the edge of the box, but his volley was straight at the goalkeeper. Meanwhile, Levante make their second change of the match as Ruben is replaced by Juanlu.

86 minJuanlu almost makes an immediate impact as Barkero searches out the Spaniard in the box, but he just cannot make a proper connection with the cross. Rubin enjoy a passing sequence of their own with Rondon eventually meeting the header, but Navas tips his effort onto the crossbar. Little under five minutes of football remaining in Valencia.

88 minRubin make their second change of the match as Rondon - who has run his heart out this evening - is replaced by Dyadyun. Very impressive night's work from the Rubin striker. The away side want a penalty moments later as Natcho is bundled over in the penalty area, but the referee shakes his head.

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89 minPOST! Glorious chance for the away side in the final minute as Natcho collects possession outside the box before striking an effort towards goal, but his effort thumps off the post. What an opportunity.

90 min+1Levante continue to force the issue as they pass and probe outside the penalty area, but you just get the feeling that these two sides could play until next week and there would not be a goal. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional four minutes of added time and we are indeed into the first of those.

90 min+4Not too much to report in the latter stages of the match with Rubin comfortable in possession of the ball. Neither side will be too disappointed with the score this evening, while it leaves it so delicately poised ahead of the second leg. Little under a minute of football remaining in Valencia.

90 min+4FULL-TIME: Levante 0-0 Rubin Kazan

9.58pmSo there we have it. Not really a match that will live long in the memory as Levante and Rubin Kazan share a goalless draw. However, it does leave proceedings delicately poised ahead of the second leg next week. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to join us this weekend for a host of live commentaries across Europe. Good evening!

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