Pavel Nekhaychik heralded the dawn of his 22nd birthday with a hat-trick in FC BATE Borisov's 5-1 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round victory over FH Hafnarfjördur on Wednesday, but he insists talk of celebrating is premature.
Nekhaychik broke the deadlock 48 minutes into the first leg, adding two more in the last five minutes as he marked his last day as a 21-year-old in style. It leaves BATE with more than an interested eye on Friday's third qualifying round draw, even with the second leg to come in Iceland next Wednesday. "The most important thing is that we proved ourselves to all the critics who had been quick to lose faith in BATE after recent setbacks. We are alright," he said.
"I don't want to talk about my own game because any good performance is about the whole team," added the midfielder. "
I don't overestimate my contribution and won't flatter myself. Of course I'm happy, but it's the team that matters." It is a mature viewpoint, and Nekhaychik's game has also come on: his goals in Borisov came with a header, a one-touch finish and a one-on-one. "I suppose I will only remember the first one because it crowned a beautiful team move and got us going."
The ensuing win was a success his coach, Viktor Goncharenko, had always expected, despite going in goalless at half-time. "We knew it would be tough for the visitors in the second half because of the climate and long flight," said the 33-year-old trainer. "
Around 25 minutes from time fatigue really started to affect FH and their game went to pieces as we created chances. The big margin of victory means we go there without any worries."
Indeed, Goncharenko is already looking beyond the return match. "There is a fly in the ointment because three yellow cards is way too many," he said. "The goal we conceded on 89 minutes does not make my happy either – sometimes a team with a big lead loses concentration. But generally I'm satisfied with the lads' game and attitude. Now we have to prepare for the next match."
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