Alania Vladikavkaz made Russia's first foray into European competition this season on Thursday evening but their progress in the Europa League qualifiers was left in doubt after a 1-1 home draw with Aktobe of Kazakhstan.
The hosts started badly, going behind to Malick Mane's goal after just 11 minutes. Alania's defense lost track of the Senegalese forward, who latched onto a short pass into the penalty area and slotted past the onrushing keeper from six yards.
The North Ossetians, making their first appearance in Europe in 11 years, drew level on the hour mark, Atsamaz Buraev diving to head home Georgy Gabulov's perfect cross from six yards.
Aktobe goalkeeper Andrei Sidelnikov then got himself sent off five minutes later when he dashed out of his area and leapt into Buraev as he chased a long through ball with two defenders in attendance.
But the Russians couldn't take advantage and they travel to Kazakhstan next Thursday needing a win or scoring draw to go through to a two-legged playoff to reach the Europa League group stage. Coach Vladimir Gazzayev put his side's chances of going through at 50-50.