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In a shocking result, Belarusian side BATE Borisov held Italian giants AC Milan to a 1-1 draw in Belarus tonight. While BATE still need a highly unlikely victory from Plzen over Barcelona to keep their hopes of qualifying for the next stage of the tournament alive. The result will have done wonders for morale at BATE, who are the only Belarusian side to ever qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.
Milan made the perfect start to the game, pressuring BATE into several mistakes, and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came close to breaking the deadlock with several attempts on goal. Aleksandr Gutor, the BATE goalkeeper, did well to deny Ibrahimovic for the first 20 minutes, but was helpless to prevent Ibrahimovic giving Milan the lead in the 22nd minute.
The Swedish striker dispossessed defender Marko Simic, giving the ball to Robinho in the process. The Brazilian then progressed down the flank before returning the ball to Ibrahimovic , which the striker controlled and slotted past the advancing Gutor.
The goal seemed to bolster Milan’s confidence, with the visitors dictating the tempo of the game, and looking to extend their control over the game further. Although it seemed only a matter of time before they extended their lead, BATE was still a threat, and were posing a danger on the counter-attack.
One counter in particular caused anxiety for Milan fans, as Maksim Skavysh almost equalized for his side just a minute after Milan had taken the lead, but his header was saved well by Christian Abbiati. BATE were fortunate to enter the half-time break just one goal behind, as minutes before the interval, Robinho rounded Gutor, but was only able to hit the post with his effort.
With the home fans counting their blessings to have not conceded another goal, BATE manager Viktor Goncharenko had his work cut out instilling some self-belief back into his team before the second half. Whatever Goncharenko said to his side during the break, it seemed to work. With the home side looking in control of the game and pushing hard for an equalizer right from the kick-off.
The encouraged home fans did not have to wait long for their teams effort to be rewarded, and Renan Bressan stroked home a penalty in the 55th minute, after a clumsy foul by Ignazio Abate. With their passionate fans spurring them on, BATE looked to keep control of the game as it entered the final 30 minutes.
All seemed to go to plan for BATE, as they defended well, and even came close to taking the lead in what would have been an extraordinary victory for the Belarusian side. Despite being unable to take all three points, they will congratulate themselves on one of the greatest results in the club’s relatively short history.