Borisov BATE team defeats football giants

BATE continues its sensational parade in Champions League, beating Bayern Munich — the favourite of Group F — after defeating French Lille
By Dmitry Komashko

Before the launch of the Champions League group round, Belarus’ champion seemed far from a favourite, faced with Bayern, Lille and Valencia. However, the team has surpassed all expectations; after its first two matches, the Borisov team is in a well-deserved first place in Group F!

Of course, the line-up of Bayern Munich looked far more impressive and the Germans hit the bar twice (taking advantage of their rivals’ mistakes). However, Borisov didn’t waste any time either, realising that Bayern was a formidable opponent which wouldn’t give up until it had claimed victory. Brilliant play from BATE goalkeeper Andrey Gorbunov prevented Bayern from scoring too many goals at Dynamo Stadium in Minsk. Meanwhile, BATE’s forceful attack skills were completely unexpected for the German national team goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer.

Alexander Pavlov opened the score during the 23rd minute, using a counterattack by Borisov, with a powerful kick. Finding itself in the unusual position of having to catch up (before arriving in Minsk, the German squad had a run of nine wins) Bayern reinforced its pressure. Nevertheless, BATE still led 1:0 by halftime. Moreover, it managed to skilfully suppress attacks and even organised some rather dangerous counterattacks. One brought a second goal, 12 minutes before the second half ended. Other opportunities presented themselves earlier, with Alexander Hleb showing himself to be a true leader, setting up goals for his teammates; however, Edgar Olekhnovich’s attempt was repelled by goalkeeper Neuer while Vitaly Rodionov and Alexander Pavlov managed to miss the net. Sooner or later, these attempts were destined to bring a result — as happened during the 78th minute, when Rodionov and Olekhnovich’s work paid off.

This caused Bayern (the unanimous favourite of the group) to panic, rushing to redeem themselves. Franck Ribйry managed to find the net in the first minute of extra time but German fans were soon disappointed, as BATE’s Renan Bressan scored, leaving the final score at 3:1.

“To beat Bayern, everything needed to come together,” noted BATE head coach Victor Goncharenko after the match. “Fortunately, this happened; my trainees kept their heads calmly. Moreover, we were well aware of Bayern’s weaknesses, using these to our advantage.”

It’s too early to speak of BATE undoubtedly reaching the Champions League play-offs, since they must next face Spanish Valencia. The latter will surely learn from Bayern’s experience and will be ready for the Belarusian champion. If BATE is to continue in Europe’s major club tournament it must defeat its opponents, as BATE halfback Alexander Hleb admits; a great challenge lies ahead. He believes that Bayern is still the favourite of the group, noting, “Yes, we’ve won but the Munich players dominated, attacking repeatedly and taking possession of the ball for most of the match. It just happens that, in football, this doesn’t always lead to victory. I don’t think that the name of BATE will strike fear in all our rivals as a result of the match. They’ll just be studying our game more thoroughly. We’ll prepare for the match against Valencia in the same way as we did for our last rivals. We’ll try to do our best and will move from game to game, assessing our achievements and making plans for the future.”
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