Football European Cups still running their course

There’s more to the sporting world than the Olympiad, with football fans attentively following the decisive stages of the qualification matches for European club tournaments
By Yuri Bakerenko

Last week, BATE and Gomel continued their ‘European campaign’, with Borisov drawing with Hungarian Debrecen (1:1) in its away match and Gomel losing in a tough struggle to English Liverpool (0:1). 

The Champions League third qualifying round between BATE and Debrecen was worth seeing for the appearance of Alexander Hleb alone, in the yellow and blue uniform. He began his professional career with Borisov and has now returned to his roots after a long spell abroad. “A task has been set for the club to reach the Champions League Group Stage, so I’ll do everything I can to help fulfil this. I’m here because of my love for the club; money plays no role at all,” stressed Alexander Hleb, soon after signing his contract with BATE.

Borisov fans clearly appreciate his words, having hung a huge banner reading: ‘Welcome!’ in their sector before the match against Debrecen. If only BATE had won! Alas, despite the efforts of Hleb and the other Borisov players, Debrecen was too strong. In fact, BATE would have lost were it not for Victor Goncharenko bringing on Ibrahim Sidibe in extra time; he scored a valuable goal, leading to the draw.

Gomel, wearing green and white, lost nobly to mighty English Liverpool in the Champions League third qualifying round. Oleg Kubarev’s team held their heads high and played well yet failed to utilise their opportunities. Playing at home, at Gomel’s Tsentralny Stadium, the squad had more scoring windows than its opponent. Strangely, Liverpool was a pale shadow of itself, perhaps due to having only recently returned from holidays; the players are clearly not on top form. Brendan Rodgers’ club has some way to go in preparing itself for the English championship. 

The Gomel team could still reach the next round, if it plays well in the return match. Forward Dmitry Platonov assures us that his squad will do everything (possible and impossible) to achieve its goal.
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