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Valencia survive late BATE scare to prosper

Valencia CF 4-2 FC BATE Borisov
Mauricio Pellegrino's side shipped two late goals yet still had enough to see off the Belarusian champions and climb to second place in Group F.

Valencia survive late BATE scare to prosper
Valencia survive late BATE scare to prosper ©UEFA.com

Valencia CF eased past FC BATE Borisov 4-2 for a vital UEFA Champions League win which looked as if it would be more clear cut.

Goals from Jonas and Roberto Soldado plus a second-half brace from Sofiane Feghouli reflected Valencia's overall dominance – and set up a tantalising matchday five showdown with Group F leaders FC Bayern München. But two BATE replies in the second period, from Renan Bressan and Dmitri Mozolevski, will have annoyed home coach Mauricio Pellegrino given the sloppiness involved.

Just as he had been the standout performer in the Spanish side's previous group stage home game, the 2-0 win over LOSC Lille, so Jonas owned the first half here. Even though Viktor Goncharenko's team immediately played with pace and intelligence, clearly seeking a goal rather than striving to contain Valencia, the Brazilian forward was bang on form.

Aly Cissokho's left-wing centre let Soldado tee up his strike partner and Jonas seemed set for an eighth-minute goal but for a well-judged block by Yegor Filipenko. After the last meeting between the sides, BATE's players talked of eliminating "childish mistakes" but in this case it was pure ill fortune that allowed the breakthrough.

Tino Costa sent a long raking pass from the left touchline and while Jonas controlled and turned, it was the fact that Filipenko's attempt to clear bounced back off Jonas's chest that enabled the No7 to lash in a left-footed volley.

One key element of a top-quality team is that they keep their focus, particularly when the opposition drop off. Evidence came with the second goal. Play had barely resumed properly when Valencia pinched the ball and Jonas slotted a fine pass into the path of Andrés Guardado's central run. Artem Radkov brought him down, the referee gave the spot kick and Valencia captain Soldado stroked it into the right-hand panel of Andrei Gorbunov's net with total nonchalance. His skyward salute came in memory of his grandfather who died at the weekend.

It was the cue for a fusillade of flicks, dribbles and lobs at goal which evidenced Valencia at their most confident. So it was no shock when they augmented their lead in the second half. Fernando Gago sprinted forward before dispensing a majestic pass which Feghouli, unmarked, whipped past Gorbunov for 3-0.

With nothing to lose, BATE surged forward and just two minutes after Feghouli's strike a Bressan free-kick, which Maksim Bordachev tried to flick with his head, deceived goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to reduce the deficit. When Gago dallied with seven minutes left he was robbed and Vitali Rodionov fed substitute Mozolevski for an easy goal.

But perhaps justice was done when Éver Banega's lovely late assist let Feghouli restore the two-goal cushion. The result moves Valencia into second position behind Bayern – level on nine points – with BATE three behind in third.