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UEFA Europa League: Rubin Kazan 1 Wigan Athletic 0

Rubin Kazan secured their place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League with a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic on Thursday.

Oleg Kuzmin’s strike after 22 minutes settled the match in the hosts’ favour as they moved five points clear at the top of Group D.

Wigan travelled to Russia having secured a 1-1 draw in the last meeting between the two sides at the DW Stadium earlier in the month.

The Championship club knew they could take a big step towards qualification to the next stage with a win, but their hopes were dented as they produced a disappointing performance.

Rubin were in control for the majority of the game and deserved the three points as they seek to improve on last year’s showing in the competition, when they reached the quarter-finals.

Talented winger Roman Eremenko came in to the side for the home side as one of three changes made by manager Kurban Berdyev.

Meanwhile, Wigan boss Owen Coyle also opted to shuffle his pack as he made six alterations to the side that beat Huddersfield Town 2-1, Roger Espinoza making his first European appearance to form part of a five-man midfield.

The visitors’ plan to stifle the Russian outfit appeared to be working in the early stages, with both sides struggling to create opportunities.

However, Coyle’s men found themselves behind midway through the opening half Kuzmin lashed home at the far post after being played through by Bibras Natcho.

Wigan finally crafted their first chance of the encounter as striker Grant Holt headed Espinoza’s left-wing cross over the bar.

Rubin dominated for long periods, but it took until the 63rd minute for them to carve open another genuine goalscoring opportunity, midfielder Alexander Ryazantsev shooting wide from the edge of the area.

Kuzmin headed off target from a corner as Berdyev’s charges looked to press home their superiority, but it was Wigan who looked the more likely to score in the closing stages.

And they should have levelled seven minutes from time when Norwegian defender Thomas Rogne headed against the bar, but they were left to rue what might have been.

Thu 7 November, 2013
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