There was something of a slow start tonight in Ukraine as host side Dynamo Kiev and their opposition, Rubin Kazan, got things underway in the first ever clash between the two eastern European sides.
Rubin, travelling to Kiev from neighbouring Russia, kicked off the match and promptly tested the home side's backline with a few long balls fired in from deep in their own half. Keen to match their visitors, Dynamo did much the same in the early stages - trying to find veteran striker Andriy Shevchenko with no real joy.
Things started to heat up quickly though, as the Russians began to pound the wide areas looking for a way through. Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, 'Sheva' found some space on the right flank, but his wayward cross sailed over the head of everyone in the box and went out for a goal kick.
With both teams looking a little shaky in defence, an attempt by Artem Milevski should have seen his side take the lead, but the through ball provided for the Kiev skipper was a just a tad too fast, leaving Sergei Kozko with the easy task of catching the ball and sending it back out into open play.
Dynamo's first real chance came from Gerson Magrao's free kick from 25 yards out. The Brazilian's cross swerved beautifully into the box, but Ayila Yussuf failed to get enough on the header and had to watch his attempt sail wide of the mark.
Rubin started to look the more inspired team as the first half unfolded further, Sergei Semak controlling all the play going through the middle of the pitch from his midfield position.
After 24 minutes had passed, Semak was scythed down 21 yards from goal, prompting a South American style free kick from outside the box. Argentine pair Cristian Ansaldi and Alejandro Dominguez stood over the ball, Ansaldi looking the prime candidate to take the set piece with a few steps of run-up.
However, it would be Dominguez who took one step into the ball, curling it beautifully over the wall and into the top left corner of the net - leaving Ukrainian 'keeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy flat footed and looking on as the ball hit the inside of his net.
Rubin quickly used the goal to their advantage, bullying the Bilo-Syni at every opportunity and looking more dangerous with every attacking move.
Kiev had soon had a chance to equalise through Milos Ninkovic, however, the Serb's attempt to find the net after latching onto a long ball was struck in vain as he watched the ball trundle off to the right of the target.
Karadeniz continued to pester the hosts on into the first half, causing no end of problems as he bombed down the right flank, looking dangerous every time he received the ball.
The home side had one more chance to steady the ship before half time after a loose ball from Dominguez landed at the feet of Shevchenko. The 32-year-old did well to find Andriy Yarmolenko at the far post, but the teenager's timing was slightly off, forcing the ball to sail over the bar.
After the break, the hosts looked like an entirely different side altogether. Valery Gazzayev's half-time talk had clearly instilled a sense of urgency in his men, prompting a spirited performance as the game kicked off for the part II of the 90 minute clash.
Milevski, looking much more like a captain in the second period, produced a wonderful flick to play in Shevchenko, but the former Chelsea man screamed his shot over the bar and was left with his head in his hands. Still - the hosts began to look the more dangerous of the two teams.
Tiberiu Ghioane and Oleg Gusev were introduced for the hosts in an attempt to create more chances on goal within the first 25 minutes of the second half. And after 71 minutes had passed, the tactical shift paid off.
Ayila Yussuf, who hadn't been looking like the sharpest tool in the box until then, sneakily created himself enough space in the Rubin box to fade back and nod home an inswung corner off the bottom of the bar and into the net. Kiev were back in the game.
It looked like two only three minutes later when Magrao headed in a deflected shot driven in from distance. However the Brazilian had failed to return from an offside position and the goal was shaved off before it got to the scoreboard.
With the taste of goal still on his breath, Magrao continued to sniff around the box for the next few minutes, and after the clock ticked 79, the 24-year-old's prayers were answered. As Shevchenko failed to cash in on a ball sent through, the Brazilian crept up at the back post and hammered the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-1 for Dynamo.
Gusev's introduction into the match proved a masterstroke on Gazzayev's part, as the attacking midfielder provided a much needed spark to the hosts' game. Gusev himself would soon be rewarded for his efforts though, as he orchestrated some excellent link-up play in the final third, eventually finding the ball at his feet ripe for smashing in off the woodwork. Dynamo had turned a pathetic first half into a 3-1 win.
Rubin showed real fighting spirit in the first half of the match, but the real quality of the Ukrainians shone through as they picked up a well earned three points in their first match of this season's Champions League.
Stephen Crawford, Goal.com