Thursday 23 March 2017

Villa rescues share of spoils for wasteful Barca

Champions League round-up

Barcelona paid the price for wayward finishing as they were held to a 1-1 draw by their bogey team Rubin Kazan in Champions League Group D last night.

The Russian champions, who took four out of six points off the Spanish giants in the group stage last season, went ahead when captain Christian Noboa converted a 30th-minute penalty after Barca defender Dani Alves brought down Vitaly Kaleshin.

Spain striker David Villa equalised from the spot on the hour after Andres Iniesta was fouled inside the box.

Rubin, who stunned the then European champions 2-1 in the Nou Camp before holding them to a 0-0 home draw last season, could have snatched an unlikely victory three minutes from time, but substitute Obafemi Martins hit the post.

The Catalans, with Lionel Messi on the bench after injuring his ankle in a league game a week ago, wasted a host of chances in the first half with striker Pedro being the main culprit.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola introduced Messi shortly after the equaliser, looking for the knockout blow.

The World Player of the Year, who netted twice in Barca's 5-1 demolition of Panathinaikos in their opener two weeks ago, had a good chance to score, but Rubin 'keeper Sergei Ryzhikov did well to avert the danger.

After Martins had wasted his chance, Iniesta could have snatched victory for the visitors with virtually the last kick of the game, but he just clipped a shot over the bar.

A Samuel Eto'o hat-trick helped Inter Milan beat Werder Bremen 4-0 at the San Siro to go top of Group A on goal difference.

Bremen had few answers to his speed and movement. The German side threatened early on, but Inter took advantage of weak defending to race into a 3-0 lead at halftime.

Wesley Sneijder also found the net after Eto'o had put Inter two up in six first-half minutes. The Cameroon striker added the fourth with nine minutes left.

A Steven Naismith strike gave Rangers victory in their Group C clash with Bursaspor at Ibrox.

In the 18th minute of a cagey game, the Scotland international latched on to a Kirk Broadfoot header to volley in from close range to give Rangers a share of top spot with Valencia.

Irish Independent

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