Olympique Lyonnais will play in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 12th successive season after a 1-1 draw at FC Rubin Kazan put them through 4-2 on aggregate.
If the first half of this play-off decider was a tight affair, matters certainly livened up after the interval as Rubin piled on the pressure. When Bebras Natcho struck with 13 minutes remaining, the Russian side only needed another one to go through on away goals. However, Bakary Koné headed in late on to make sure of Lyon's place in Thursday's draw.
Rubin struck early in last week's first leg, but they displayed a far more wary approach at home. Kurban Berdyev's men were happy to ease into the contest and it was Lyon who threatened first, after 15 minutes, as Maxime Gonalons seized on a loose ball and drove in a low shot that was tipped wide by Sergei Ryzhikov.
Rubin were enjoying more possession but could not find an opening, and when they did get in behind, Sergei Kislyak could not produce a telling cross. Gökdeniz Karadeniz then overran the ball in the 34th minute as a shooting opportunity presented itself for the first time – nevertheless, the hosts finished the first half without a single effort on target.
There was a marked increase in urgency as Rubin emerged after the interval and Christian Noboa quickly fired wide. This change of tack also afforded Lyon more space, though, and after 57 minutes they nearly made the hosts pay. Bafétimbi Gomis was released by Kim Källström and rounded Ryzhikov, only for a sliding Vitali Kaleshin to make a superb goal-line clearance.
Rubin's attacks were becoming more frequent and after Lyon striker Lisandro was denied in a one-on-one situation by Ryzhikov, Igor Lebedenko saw his bullet header cannon off the bar and away to safety. The hosts' pressure was mounting, and Aleksei Medvedev went close twice before Natcho struck with 13 minutes left, volleying in Obafemi Martins' astute knockdown.
The Russian outfit continued to press but with three minutes left, Koné beat Ryzhikov to Källström's inswinging corner to effectively settle the tie and end Rubin's dream of reaching the group stage for a third time.
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