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BATE eager to take next step

The two debutant teams in Group H face an uphill struggle to qualify after their Matchday 3 meeting ended in a draw and FC BATE Borisov will be desperate to win having been denied victory by FC Zenit St. Petersburg's late goal.

Zenit's Roman Shirokov (right) contests a high ball with Vitali Rodionov of BATE
Zenit's Roman Shirokov (right) contests a high ball with Vitali Rodionov of BATE ©Getty Images

FC BATE Borisov were ten minutes away from securing a maiden victory in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Matchday 3 before Fatih Tekke earned FC Zenit St. Petersburg their first point in Group H. The teams renew their rivalry knowing that the prospect of obtaining one of the qualifying places has become more distant.

• BATE had previously lost all six matches against Russian opposition in UEFA club competition but that statistic looked like changing at the Petrovsky Stadium thanks to half-time substitute Pavel Nekhaychik's cool finish after 52 minutes. The home team had earlier struck the woodwork twice and passed up a host of other opportunities, but finally drew level when Tekke evaded the BATE offside trap to shoot past Sergei Veremko.

• The Belarussian debutants have two points, one more than Zenit who remain bottom of the section. Both teams are some way behind leaders Juventus and Real Madrid CF who have seven and six points respectively.

• In their last home game, BATE assumed they were destined to pick up all three points as they hurled themselves at Juventus' back line and were rewarded with two goals in the opening 23 minutes. Sergei Kryvets and Igor Stasevich scored to underline to an exuberant crowd that the underdogs are no respecters of reputation. However Juventus refused to give up without a fight and, with a header followed by a low drive, Vincenzo Iaquinta brought the visitors level before the break.

• A point might have been considered a poor return for BATE's early dominance but at least it got them off the mark in the section, having started with a 2-0 defeat in Madrid. In Russia on Matchday 2, Zenit slid to their second defeat as they followed up their narrow defeat in Turin – Alessandro Del Piero giving Juventus the points through a late free-kick – with a 2-1 home reverse against Los Merengues.

• Coach Dick Advocaat's team were put on the back foot when defender Tomáš Hubočan put through his own net early on. The Russian champions' were rattled at that stage but gradually found their stride and when record signing Danny levelled midway through the opening period, Zenit appeared to be building the momentum to go on and dominate. However, Madrid's response was swift and deadly, Ruud van Nistelrooy taking advantage of more defensive uncertainty to ensure Bernd Schuster's team claimed the spoils.

• The game on Matchday 3 was the first time Zenit had faced Belarussian opposition in an official game while BATE had met Russian opponents on six previous occasions in European club competition. They had lost all six and moreover had only scored a single goal in those meetings. That came in their first of those six fixtures, a home game in the 1999/00 UEFA Cup qualifying round tie, but as FC Lokomotiv Moskva rattled in seven goals of their own that day, BATE's single strike was scarcely relevant. The away leg ended 5-0 to Lokomotiv to complete a 12-1 aggregate defeat for the Borisov club.

• Heavy aggregate defeats also followed in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup second qualifying round against FC Krylya Sovetov Samara (4-0) and at the same stage of the same competition the following year, FC Rubin Kazan beating them 5-0 over the two games. BATE lost 2-0 in the home legs of both those ties.

• Advocaat was in charge of the Netherlands team who twice defeated Belarus in the UEFA EURO 2004qualifying campaign. They won 3-0 in Eindhoven and 2-0 in Minsk. Zenit's Fernando Ricksen played in the Eindhoven game on 7 September 2002.

• The other game in Group H on Matchday 3 pits Madrid against Juventus.