Putin thanks Turkish PM for winning Rubin goal

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP): Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin thanked his Turkish counterpart after Gokdeniz Karadeniz scored the winning goal in Rubin Kazan's shock win over Barcelona in the Champions League earlier this week.

Putin - meeting in St. Petersburg with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi - took time out from a three-way discussion of business matters on Thursday to thank Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was participating via a video-linkup.

"It was a Turkish player that scored the winning goal - for which we want to express thanks," Putin told Erdogan.

Berlusconi, chuckling, warned Putin not to damage diplomatic ties with Spain.

Putin said that Barcelona is well liked and respected by Russian football fans.

"But this is sports, and the Russian team proved stronger this time - thanks in part to the Turkish player," Putin said.

Karadeniz's 73rd-minute goal gave Rubin a 2-1 victory over defending champion Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

According to state-run Channel One, which showed the jovial exchange, Berlusconi congratulated Putin on Rubin's win and Putin congratulated the Italian premier on AC Milan's 3-2 Champions League victory over Real Madrid on Wednesday.

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