Rubin ease past Rovers
Midfielder Gokdeniz Karadeniz eased Rubin Kazan past Irish minnows Shamrock Rovers as the Russian side opened their Europa League Group A campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Obafemi Martins had opened the scoring at Tallaght Stadium after just three minutes, and Christian Noboa made it 2-0 five minutes after the break before Karadeniz capped a fine individual display with a sweetly-struck third on the hour.
Rubin striker Nelson Valdez had earlier seen a first-half penalty saved by Ryan Thompson, and Sergei Ryzhikov matched his feat to keep out Stephen O'Donnell's 64th-minute spot-kick.
Shamrock got off to the worst possible start when Karadeniz, made good ground down the left and cut inside before squaring the ball for Martins. The Nigeria international spun swiftly and although his left-footed shot was not the cleanest he has ever struck, his placement was more than adequate to send it into the bottom corner.
The home side went close to an equaliser after 16 minutes when former Spurs midfielder Rohan Ricketts found space down the left and crossed for O'Donnell, whose extra-time penalty in Belgrade last month earned the club their passage to the group stage. He beat goalkeeper Ryzhikov to the ball, but headed over.
Rubin should have put the result beyond doubt nine minutes before the break when defender Craig Sives brought down Martins in the area. However, Thompson dived to his right to keep out Valdez' spot-kick and made a second block before skipper Dan Murray hacked clear.
The visitors extended their lead in style with five minutes of the second half gone when Noboa did not need to break stride to rifle a stinging half-volley into the top corner despite Thompson's best efforts.
Rovers very nearly got themselves back into the game within seconds when Ronan Finn ran on to striker Gary Twigg's flick-on to head towards goal, but Ryzhikov made a fine reaction save to keep his effort out at point-blank range.
The Irish side's fading hopes were dealt a fatal blow on the hour when Karadeniz unfurled an inch-perfect curling finish off the underside of the crossbar after latching on to Bebras Natcho's inviting pass.
O'Neill's men had a golden opportunity to grab a consolation goal four minutes later when Twigg was bundled to the ground inside the box by defender Cesar Navas. But O'Donnell could not repeat his feat in Serbia as Ryzhikov saved with his legs diving to his left.