Victory in defeat
Belshina were presented with the 2001 title with a round of matches remaining despite losing their penultimate game at home to eventual runners-up FC Dinamo Minsk. Two first-half goals from Vitali Volodenkov and Igor Chumachenko secured the points for Dinamo, but results elsewhere saw celebrations at the Spartak stadium in Bobruisk.
At full time, the news filtered through that Belshina's nearest challengers, FC BATE Borisov, had been forced to settle for a 0-0 draw with Shakhtior Soligorsk leaving Belshina with an unassailable four-point lead.
Misery for Borisov
In the final round of league games, things got even worse for Borisov as a 2-0 defeat at Dinamo saw them lose their second-place slot in the league and, perhaps more importantly, a place in next season's UEFA Cup.
Kutuzov joins Milan
It was a particularly sad moment for Borisov who had got a taste for the UEFA Cup after a two-legged defeat by Serie A giants Milan AC. While they were comprehensively beaten on aggregate, Milan were impressed by at least one of Borisov's players and in the aftermath of their 2-0 defeat in the first leg, 21-year-old striker Vitali Kutuzov joined the Italian club in a €2.2m deal.
'A great honour'
After 14 goals in 18 games for Borisov, it was little more than Kutuzov deserved, although he admitted to feeling a little overawed at the prospect of moving to Serie A. "It's a great honour for me to put on a Milan shirt, although to be honest I'm a bit apprehensive about playing in Italy's top league," he said.
That high profile move may have been one of the reasons why a survey of the country's top football journalists, players, coaches and referees carried out by the Belarus weekly sports newspaper Pressball named Kutuzov as the third best Belarussian player of the season.
The top honours in the poll went to FC Rostselmash Rostov-Na-Donu goalkeeper Gennadi Tumilovich and FC Dynamo Kyiv midfield player Valentin Belkevich, but strangely there was no place for FC Neman-Belcard Grodno striker Sergei Davidov who led the scorers chart in the Belarussian first division with 25 goals - over half of his side's 44 for the season.
While the season ended happily for Kutuzov, there was misery for FC Naftan-Devon Novopolotsk and FC Vedrich-97 Rechitsa who were both relegated from the Belarussian top flight after wretched league seasons. Naftan finished the season second from bottom with 14 points - five adrift of Lokomotiv-96 Vitebsk - while Vedrich managed just eight points from their 26 league games and just two league wins all season.
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