Gutor thanks lucky stars for last-four place

After reaching the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals, Belarus goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor told "great luck" had played its part in the team's progress.

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Belarus No1 Aleksandr Gutor has played a starring role in helping his country reach the semi-finals but told the squad's progress owed much to "great luck" too.

The FC BATE Borisov goalkeeper has been one of his team's key players in Denmark, particularly in producing a number of saves in the opening victory against Iceland. Having lost 2-1 to Denmark in their second game and then 3-0 to Group A winners Switzerland in Aarhus, Gutor conceded fortune had favoured Belarus in seeing them through to the last four thanks to a superior head-to-head goal difference with the Danes and Iceland.

"Of course, it is unexpected to lose 3-0 – actually to lose two games with a cumulative goal difference of 1-5 – and still get to the semi finals. I guess it's great luck we are having," said the 22-year-old, whose nation have qualified for the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship at the third time of asking. "I cannot say it's payback for the times when the national team had good results but were still eliminated. You shouldn't compare old championships to this one. Today it's a different story. We live in the present, and we are glad it turned out this way."

The denouement would have been different, though, had Iceland found another goal in Aalborg. "I knew the score over there was 2-0, then 2-1," said Belarus captain Mikhail Sivakov. "When our game ended I understood, based on the reaction of the staff and the boys, that everything had worked out well for us. At first it was hard to believe, but then it sank in."

The winners of Group B will await Georgi Kondratyev's men in the semi-final in Viborg on Wednesday. The Belarusian squad will be watching Sunday's final group matches with interest as their ticket to the London 2012 Olympic Games would be booked should England also make the last four.

"We are very positive about going to the semi-finals, which has never happened before. We lost 3-0 tonight but will aim at winning our semi and trying to reach the final," said Gutor. "It would be good if England are in the last four, as it would provide a passport to the Olympics. Otherwise it does not matter who the opponent is. We are happy we can continue in the tournament."