Rubin Kazan held on to a 1-1 home draw on Thursday against a Wolfsburg side that gave fair warning the Russian champions face a challenge in Germany next week to get to the Europa League quarterfinals.
After a slow opening on a surface more suited to grazing cattle than playing football, the game opened up into an end-to-end affair that saw both sides create plenty of chances.
Rubin had the better of the first half, with Ecuadorean midfielder Christian Noboa putting the hosts in front in the 29th minute with a close-range header after Cristian Ansaldi's cross was headed back across goal by Turkey's Hasan Kabze.
Just two minutes later, Russia striker Alexander Bukharov - who before kickoff had three goals in three games this season - was put through on the right but his fierce shot was saved by Marwin Hitz in the Wolfsburg goal.
The German champions had demonstrated their threat going forward, but when the halftime whistle blew to give the players some relief from the -10 Celsius temperatures Rubin deserved their slim lead.
Wolfsburg began to stretch the home defense as the second half wore on, and got a deserved equalizer from Zvjezdan Misimovic, the Bosnian international curling in a shot from the edge of the area that gave Rubin keeper Sergei Ryzhikov no chance.
Although both sides continued to show their attacking intent, neither could add to their goal and the Germans will be favorites to go through after the second leg in Wolfsburg, where CSKA Moscow lost 3-1 in their first Champions League group game last September.
However, the Tatar side finished third in their Champions League group thanks in large part to a 2-1 win in Barcelona, and won more league points away from home than in Kazan last season, so they will have confidence that cagey coach Kurban Berdyev - who has spent the offseason fending off questions about the soon-to-be vacant Russian national team job - will guide them to the result they need.
MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti)