Despite playing against 10 men for the entire second half, defending champion Atletico Madrid lost 2-0 in the first leg of its Europa League Round of 32 series against Rubin Kazan at the Vicente Calderon stadium on Thursday. The Russian Premier League team took an early lead 10 minutes into the game and then rode its luck after Roman Sharonov was dismissed just before halftime. Then, five minutes into stoppage time in the second half, Atletico keeper Sergio Asenjo was caught badly out of position after coming up for a corner kick, Rubin countered and midfielder Pablo Orbaiz slotted into an empty net to make it 2-0.
After the game, Atletico coach Diego Simeone took the blame, saying he told Asenjo to go up for the corner. “The decision was mine. I thought the game was almost over and that at 1-1 the game would be closer,” Simeone said. “Football is a game of risk and we are where we are for taking them. The responsibility is mine and the second goal will force us to get more than one in the second leg.” The Argentine tactician suggested that the outcome was cruel on his team, which he described as “outstanding during moments” but ultimately “lacking precision.”
Meanwhile, Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev praised his players for grinding out a tough win. “It was a really tough match and further complicated by the sending off of Sharonov,” he said. “We were playing to get a good result and have managed it. We can decide the series back in Russia.”