|J||Club Brugge||Shakhtar Donetsk|
Latvia's first appearance in the group stage of UEFA club competition brought a first point as FK Ventspils secured a draw at Hertha BSC Berlin.
Hertha, missing several players through injury including the pivotal Gojko Kačar, had led at the break through Łukasz Piszczek's 34th-minute strike. But early in the second half Edgars Gauračs fired past substitute goalkeeper Sascha Burchert to ensure a share of the UEFA Europa League Group D points.
Although the lively Piszczek came close with an early header, Hertha were kept quiet in the formative stages by a Ventspils defence including debutant Alessandro Zamperini. The visitors even ventured upfield and though Igor Ţîgîrlaş's 19th-minute shot failed to beat Jaroslav Drobný, the Hertha goalkeeper hurt his knee as he sought to collect his parry, and was replaced by teenager Burchert for an unexpected senior bow.
At the other end Pavel Chesnovski kept out a Piszczek effort but he was soon beaten. The Ventspils goalkeeper could only parry a long-range shot from 18-year-old midfielder Lennart Hartmann, a surprise starter, and Piszczek smashed in the rebound. Ventspils nearly levelled on the stroke of half-time but, after beating Hertha's offside trap, Gauračs volleyed wide.
Gauračs, who hit a hat-trick for Latvia Under-21s last week, had better luck three minutes into the second half, receiving Ţîgîrlaş's pass on the edge of the box and shooting between the legs of Arne Friedrich and past the wrong-footed Burchert. Hertha were stung and Chesnovski had to tip Cícero's free-kick round the post and Valeri Domovchiyski headed Friedrich's cross over. But as time ran out Ventspils looked increasingly comfortable, introducing Latvia captain Vitālijs Astafjevs with 15 minutes left as they ease him back after injury.
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