|Žilina||H. Kiryat Shmona|
FC BATE Borisov were staring at defeat before Vitali Rodionov's added-time double secured an unlikely UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first-leg victory against FK Vardar.
It looked business as usual when Dmitri Mozolevski gave last season's group stage participants a 41st-minute lead, but they soon fell prey to a passionate second-half rally. Two goals in eight minutes put the Macedonian visitors in the ascendancy, yet nobody foresaw the thrilling climax that ensued as Rodionov struck twice to earn his side a dramatic victory.
After a sluggish start, BATE picked up the pace and almost went ahead after 24 minutes when Aleksandr Pavlov's effort was cleared off the line. Their patience prevailed, however, as Maksim Bordachev's powerful strike proved too hot to handle and Mozolevski pounced to give BATE the lead.
The home side should have doubled their advantage after the break but Rodionov froze in front of goal and allowed Kostadin Zahov to make a comfortable save. That miss would prove costly as Jovan Kostovski met Ostoja Stjepanović's deft cross to level on 54 minutes. The provider then turned goalscorer, latching on to a loose clearance before rifling a shot past Andrei Gorbunov.
BATE refused to relent and were rewarded for their spirit in added time when Rodionov found the net with a precise header. The comeback was complete two minutes later, Rodionov's predatory instincts coming to the fore again as he turned Artyom Kontsevoi's centre past Zahov to give BATE the edge ahead of next Wednesday's return in Skopje.
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