There were no goals and precious little real excitement in Russia as Group F`s underdogs canceled each other out, according to

It may sound obvious, but there were certainly no winners between Rubin Kazan and Dynamo Kiev, as both sides saw their Champions League hopes slip a little further because of their scoreless draw in snow-swept Tatarstan.

The stakes were high in Russia, with three points that would have carried either side to the very cusp of last 16 qualification up for grabs. However, neither outfit displayed the quality to undo their opponents for long periods. Though it would be the guests who enjoyed the upper hand for large portions of the match, Rubin had the best effort on goal, Alejandro Dominguez’s acrobatic effort clawed away on the stroke of half-time.

With a great prize hanging like a carrot on a stick before their noses, the first half proved to be a tight affair, characterized by loose passes, committed tackles and rapid closing down from either side.

Only seconds after kick-off it was clear that there was an air of tension about the home team, with a quick free kick passed directly out of play. This episode would be somewhat typical of their first half performance, though the Russian champions would grow into the game as their title celebration hangover faded with the passing of the opening 45 minutes.

The early sparring favored the Ukrainians, whose tireless running suggested that they feared the coldness that standing idle on such an evening brings. Andriy Shevchenko would prove to be their best outlet during the first half. A vintage break from the veteran ex-Milan man down the right channel resulted in a dangerous low driven pass picking out Andriy Yarmolenko at the back post, who fired a presentable opportunity hopelessly over the bar.

At 20-years-old, the left winger again showed his lack of composure when played in by the marauding Shevchenko on the quarter hour mark. Bombing positively into the box, the lanky youngster took one touch too many with the ball and could only fire into the side-netting having made the angle difficult.

One minute earlier, Rubin had created a chance from virtually nothing. They spent much of the first half probing hopelessly, with Alejandro Dominguez struggling to exert an influence. Though the Argentine sparkled only briefly, Gokdeniz Karadeniz was proving a threat down the right, stepping inside to center from Aleksandr Bukharov, who headed wastefully at goal when free from 12 yards out.

Karadeniz would also provide the ammunition for the best moment of the first half, which arrived in its final minute. The Turk cut to the byline before dinking a clever ball back to Dominguez, who executed a thrilling overhead kick. As the ball skidded off the slick turf, it seemed a goal was inevitable but Oleksandr Shovkovskiy produced one of the saves of the competition to confound the striker, whose tenacious efforts earlier in the half had allowed him to unleash a snap shot towards the near post. On that occasion, the Ukrainian goalkeeper was not tested to nearly the same extent.

Courted by several of Europe’s top clubs, the South American came into sharper focus in the second half as the game began to open up slightly. Orchestrating the home side’s best attacks, a clever pass to Igor Portnyagin from the 28-year-old resulted in the right-sided player delivering a dangerous center into the box that caused the previously unflustered Shovkovskiy some consternation before it was eventually hacked away.

Meanwhile, Dynamo talisman Artem Milevskiy, who had been quiet in the opening period, flashed early in the second half. His deft through pass to Yarmolenko presented the No. 70 with an opportunity to bear down on goal. Once again he failed to convert the chance, blasting at Sergei Ryzhikov, whose first real action of the match was commendable.

Milevskiy was again the architect of the move that saw Magrao strike into the arms of the home custodian, who would make a similarly comfortable save from Shevchenko five minutes later after the crafty forward pirouetted away from his marker on the edge of the area.

If Ryzhikov had done well to claim those efforts, he was nearly catastrophically at fault from an angled Shevchenko drive that spilled from his grasp and span along the goal line before crawling out for a corner.

At the opposite end, the impressive Shovkovskiy showed the Russian shot stopper how to do it by getting his body behind a strong Dominguez drive that was lacking somewhat in accuracy. This foray forward from the hosts was a sparse effort on goal from the ruby-clad sides, with Dynamo exerting pressure via a series of corners after a dangerous Milevskiy drive was touched wide.

The last chance would fall to the home team, with Bukharov’s touch letting him down after another slick pass from Dominguez. Muffled shouts for a penalty were correctly ignored by the referee after the cumbersome looking forward had crashed to the deck.

As time ticked away with neither side prepared to take the game by the throat, Barcelona and Inter, the other sides in the group, would have been sitting in Spain content with the outcome. No matter what happens at Camp Nou, both Rubin and Dynamo will have a shout of qualification come matchday 6. However, they both may rue their timidness on a cold Russian evening.