FC BATE Borisov will take the slenderest of leads to Dublin next week for the return leg of their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round match after Yevgeni Lashankov's goal gave the Belarussian champions victory over Bohemian FC.
Both sides went into the game weakened by injury. Aliaksandr Ermakovich and Aleh Strakhanovich were ruled out for the home side while the Irish champions were forced to take to the field without Paul McNally, although they were boosted by the return of central defensive totem Colin Hawkins, who passed a late fitness test.
Bohs' bright start
Indeed, Bohemians showed the best touches early on with winger Mark Rutherford a consistent threat down the left. BATE, for their part, seemed to be missing the creative input of playmaker Ihor Chumachenko, who started on the bench.
However, the home side eventually settled, with Dmitri Molash's shot, which drew a fine save from Matthew Gregg, a signal of their intent. After 24 minutes, BATE took the lead. Dmitry Likhtarovich and Oleg Shkabara combined well with Shkabara's through-ball finding Lashankov, whose first-time finish left Gregg with no chance.
Chances at both ends
BATE continued to press, with striker Valeri Stripeikis firing over with a free-kick soon after, while Bohemians responded gamely when a set-piece effort from Robert Doyle went narrowly wide just before half-time. BATE introduced the aforementioned Chumachenko at the break and he almost made an immediate impact, doing well to create an opening for himself before his eventual shot was easily gathered by Gregg.
Seeking an away goal, Bohemians took the game to the home team in the final minutes with Republic of Ireland forward Glen Crowe twice coming close. Meanwhile, at the other end BATE were equally profligate with Chumachenko and Pavel Shmihera both squandering good chances to extend the lead.
However, BATE coach Yuri Puntus was satisfied with his side's display. "1-0 is a good result for us. I am happy with the way we played, but I thought we should have won 2-0," he said.
Kenny rues misses
His opposite number Stephen Kenny rued his team's missed opportunities. "We started well, and decided to take control of the game. However, they took their first scoring chance," he said. "We tried hard to equalise, but unfortunately we wasted our chances." The winners of this tie will face Norwegian champions Rosenborg BK in the second qualifying round.