By Yuri Kovalev
The match schedule in the first round of the Champions League’s group stage placed BATE in a tough position, with the focus on reaching the finals in February 2012. The draw against Viktoria from Plzen gives us hope that Victor Goncharenko’s trainees could move on further, not limiting to the European Cup group tournament. The Czech squad had won all of its previous six matches, defeating formidable Norwegian Rosenborg and Danish Copenhagen. Accordingly, the draw against ‘victorious’ Viktoria was a true achievement.
Naturally, the Belarusian team was anticipating a strict battle and their expectations proved accurate. From the very first minutes, Viktoria rushed into the attack. BATE tried hard to strike back without success beyond two or three passes in the centre of the field. In the middle of the first half, BATE began to make more headway but no goals ensued on either side. Alas, during extra time, Belarus lost its concentration, allowing Marek Bakos to score.
In the second half, BATE Borisov appeared more enthusiastic, turning their aggressive attacks into a goal during the 69th minute. A brilliant pass from Filipp Rudik was skilfully employed by Renan Bressan to equalise, with the score remaining 1:1 until the final whistle. Each team now has one precious point, with Belarus next due to face star-studded Barcelona and Milan.
The draw in the opening Champions League match between Viktoria and BATE was quite predictable, as BATE head coach Victor Goncharenko noted at the after-match press conference. He pointed out that he enjoyed the match and that his squad had performed well at Prague’s Eden stadium. He added that the next match against Barcelona, on September 28th, hosted by Minsk, would present a real obstacle to BATE. After a draw of 2:2, in its home match against Milan, Barcelona is sure to come to Minsk determined to smash its Belarusian opponent.