FC BATE Borisov's home debut in the UEFA Champions League provided the underdogs with a dream start against Juventus, but it was not to last as the visitors were level by half-time, a point leaving them second in Group H.
For the Belarussian team, the first from that country to compete at this level, there was the satisfaction of knowing they had played a full part in a wonderful, seesaw encounter. Their football was incisive and they had the Italian side floundering as Sergei Kryvets and Igor Stasevich provided a handsome advantage inside 23 minutes. But Vincenzo Iaquinta, standing in for the injured David Trezeguet, hit back with two goals before the interval.
BATE wasted no time pouring forward and were encouraged by the ease with which they found their men in dangerous positions. Kryvets would not take long to show his striking prowess but first laid on a terrific pass for Vitali Rodionov who was only denied by Mauro Camoranesi's challenge. It triggered a rash of corners as the pressure mounted, Juve's unease compounded by a head injury which forced Nicola Legrottaglie off the field.
Vitali Kazantsev let fly with a dipping shot from 25 metres which dropped narrowly over the bar and with pressure mounting the historic moment arrived as the visitors' defence was dissected with surprising ease. A pass from Stasevich was perfectly weighted to dovetail with Kryvets's forward run and with Giorgio Chiellini outpaced the BATE forward showed great composure, rounding Alexander Manninger before sliding in their first UEFA Champions League goal. Legrottaglie was substituted immediately, and Juve were soon badly exposed without his height as a routine ball to the far post cleared Pavel Nedvěd and found Stasevich, who directed it into the far corner.
Juventus were rocked, but with BATE's confidence sky-high and their commitment to attack unwavering, spaces were available for the visitors to exploit if they could piece their game together. They reduced the deficit in the 29th minute when Sebastian Giovinco, fast becoming a strong influence on the game, launched a high ball and Iaquinta headed home. Juve continued to pursue the equaliser before the break and in added time Giovinco sent Iaquinta in the clear, the striker finishing clinically through the goalkeeper's legs.
It was the home team who started the second half on the front foot and Pavel Nekhaychik might have scored but lashed the ball wildly over the top. Then Aleksandr Volodko arrived to meet a cross from the left but his header just missed the target. It seemed unlikely to remain at 2-2; in the other penalty area Alessandro Del Piero got to a high ball before Veremko but could not keep his attempt down. Del Piero came close again late on as Juventus took a firmer grip on proceedings but BATE never relented in their own search for a winner and their first three points in Group H. In added time Manninger was forced to go full length to keep out a swirling shot.
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