By Igor Leshin
The match was less than dynamic, to the benefit of the Minsk squad, which lacked as many top players as the Belgians. Standard controlled more of the pitch yet failed to attempt many goals. Unfortunately, the Minsk team suffered several penalties — as they did in their match against St. Johnstone — which placed strain on goalkeeper Bushma and his defenders. They did well in saving several penalty kicks, having had quite a lot of practice of late.
In the 36th minute, with only ten players, Sverchinsky failed to tackle M’Poku appropriately and earned two yellow cards. The squad’s defence was in tatters. Lacklustre Razin was replaced by Kozak, while Maevsky took Sverchinsky’s place; almost immediately, Maevsky also committed a foul against M’Poku but, fortunately, was left without a yellow card. In the remaining minutes before halftime, nothing special happened near Minsk’s net.
In the second half, tempers flared, with Kibuk earning a yellow card for tackling Opare. The Standard defender, thinking the referee had been too light-handed, quickly rushed to take revenge against Vitaly, despite having been apparently twisted in pain on the grass a few moments before. Standard’s head coach, Guy Luzon, pushed far beyond the borders of the technical zone in order to ‘cool off’ his player and, perhaps unfairly, the Hungarian referee left Opare without so much as a warning.
Within a minute, Standard cut down Minsk’s defence with two long passes (Bulot used an especially stylish back kick) and Batshuayi opened the score, foiling goalkeeper Bushma.
Minsk FC almost managed to score, thanks to an unexpected kick from Gorbushin, from the edge of the penalty area. Sadly, Kawashima made a beautiful jump to save the ball. Nevertheless, some hope for the return match would have remained were it not for Standard’s Bulot scoring a second goal with his head.