Rubin draws 0-0 with Barcelona in Champs League

Rubin Kazan held off the constant attacking of defending champion Barcelona to earn a 0-0 draw Wednesday in the Champions League.

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Barcelona dominated possession but lacked sharp finishing against Rubin’s disciplined defense, leaving the two teams with five points each in Group F.

“We had possession of the ball, we had a lot of chances,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. “If the ball doesn’t fly into the net, what can you do?”

The visitors came closest after only two minutes, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic curled a shot past goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov onto the outside of the post after a precision through pass by Xavi Hernandez.

“It was very important not to concede,” Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev said. “Barcelona could have scored early, but thank God we managed to change things around.”

The match was Barcelona’s chance to exact revenge from last month’s suprise 2-1 home loss to Kazan.

“Rubin played great, not only in defense but on the counterattack too … They could have stolen the victory. I don’t consider this result to be anything negative,” said Guardiola, refusing to put the result down to the weather.

Rubin substitute Alexander Bukharov had the hosts’ best chance in the 79th. Victor Valdes ran out of the Barcelona goal to smother his shot.

The match was played in freezing conditions in Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Tatarstan republic.

After Ibrahimovic’s miss, Xavi’s chip from 20 meters (yards) sailed on to the roof of the net in the 19th minute. A minute later, Messi dribbled past two defenders but Ryzhikov dived at the Argentine’s feet to steal the ball.

Carlos Puyol blocked a low drive from Ecuadorean midfielder Chistian Noboa in the 25th, while Messi struck a fierce shot from 20 meters (yards) that bounced just wide seconds later.

Argentine striker Alejandro Dominguez was a nuisance for the Barcelona defense, jinking past several players in the 31st minute before losing the ball from some tight marking inside the box.

Ryzhikov saved twice again before the break, from Andres Iniesta and Ibrahimovic.

Barcelona was less potent in the second half with Rubin’s defenders, undaunted by their illustrious opponents, calmly dealing with cross after cross and breaking up patient attacks.

“We had to cut off Dani Alves and Messi, and we managed to do that,” Berdyev said.

Yaya Toure struck a stinging drive from 30 meters (yards) after the break that Ryzhikov parried for his defense to clear.

Iniesta skipped past two defenders and into the box but shot wide in the 54th, while Xavi sliced a long shot past the post in the 67th.

A rare Rubin attack in the 69th ended in Dominguez shooting weakly for the ball to bobble wide.

Five minutes later, Dominguez played Alexander Bukharov through but the substitute could only chest the ball down into the arms of Valdes.

Barcelona substitute Thierry Henry shot wide when put through by Lionel Messi in the 90th minute.