|H. Kiryat Shmona||Žilina|
Two added-time, Vitali Rodionov goals gave FC BATE Borisov a slender 3-2 lead to take to the away leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round encounter with FK Vardar, but the Belarus forward knows his side have left themselves with an uphill task.
"Obviously, I'm happy to score two crucial goals, but we had hoped for a more convincing victory," said the 28-year-old. "It is all our fault – it was us that created that situation. We have an advantage to take into the second leg, even though it isn't much. We gave them too much freedom after the break. They didn't turn the game around – we let them do it.
"It is annoying that we have been conceding goals from nothing recently, and have been struggling at the other end," added Rodionov. "We need to take a look at ourselves and find out what has been going wrong. In the past you could rely on us to be solid. I think we are lacking aggression. That's the main quality BATE need to show in Europe."
Having missed part of last season with a knee injury, Rodionov did not feature in BATE's UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, where the Belarusian champions took on AC Milan, FC Barcelona and FC Viktoria Plzeň. Thus, he is enjoying the chance to impress in Europe again, though he played down his goalscoring feats against Vardar.
"There was more luck than judgement in both of my goals," conceded 'the Professor'. "I was in the right spot on both occasions and I only needed to place my header. There was nothing special about it. Now we need to defend the result, but we know what local fans in Skopje are like, and it'll be hard for us. We need not only to play well, but also to hold off the pressure from the stands."
Rodionov was in the BATE side that got the better of Vardar's neighbours FK Makedonija GP Skopje 2-0 home and away at the same stage of the 2009/10 competition, and hopes that experience will pay dividends in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. "Our opponents were aggressive and pushed forward strongly, so we know what to expect and how to prepare for it," he recalled.
BATE's hand has been weakened with attacking midfielders Renan Bressan and Dmitri Baga joining the Belarus team at the London Olympics, but Rodionov is certain that the Borisov side have the wherewithal to thrive in their absence. "We have enough skilful players to cover for Ren and Dima," he said. "I just want to say it one more time – with the right attitude, everything should end in our favour."
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