BATE 1-0 Partizan The Belarusian champions have Mikhail Gordeichuk's header to thank for a first-leg victory against a side who lost Marko Jevtović to a red card.
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- Mikhail Gordeichuk's 75th-minute header earns lead for BATE
- Red card for Marko Jevtović leaves Partizan with ten men for second half
- Andrija Živković squanders two excellent chances for visitors
- Second leg at Stadion FK Partizan on 26 August
BATE Borisov will take a narrow lead to Belgrade for next week's UEFA Champions League play-off return leg after securing a 1-0 win on home turf against a Partizan side forced to play half the game with ten men.
Intent on making the group stage for the first time since 2010/11, the Serbian champions looked set to come away from Belarus with at least a first-leg draw until Mikhail Gordeichuk struck late on. Andrija Živković had earlier missed a pair of excellent one-on-one opportunities for the visitors, the second coming after Marko Jevtović's red card on the stroke of half-time left Zoran Milinković's men up against it.
With the Belarusian title holders boasting a 100% record from their three play-off outings to date, it was no surprise to see BATE make the running and they forced Partizan goalkeeper Živko Živković into at least four crucial saves before the half-time interval. The visiting No1 twice plunged to his left to repel goal-bound Vitali Rodionov headers, denied Gordeichuk's powerful effort at his near post and rebuffed Ilya Aleksievich's rocket from range expertly.
They may not have had a high quantity of chances but the best of the first half certainly fell to the Serbian side. Andrija Živković burst clear but a heavy touch just as he was entering the area allowed Sergei Chernik to smother the shot when it appeared the No17 would net the opener.
Partizan's hopes of a positive result took a huge blow in first-half added time as Jevtović received his second yellow and was dismissed. Despite the setback the ten men defended in numbers superbly, almost striking themselves when Andrija Živković again went clear and again was denied by the home custodian. Even so, BATE continued to push and after Gordeichuk volleyed over, he lost his man from an Igor Stasevich corner to power in the winning header with 15 minutes remaining.
Aleksandr Ermakovich, BATE coach
The battle is still to be won and the chances of advancing are still even. It was a fair result. We could have conceded but our goalkeeper Sergei Chernik saved us twice. The chances they created were as a result of our errors. We should be more careful and avoid mistakes in key areas. I would say the current state of BATE is not perfect but we are not in too bad shape either.
Zoran Milinković, Partizan coach
We played well and created several good opportunities. I have no complaints about my team. In the first half we had chances to score but the crucial factor which determined the result was the dismissal of our player [Marko Jevtović]. In the second half we had to defend a lot. My players did their best but it was tough with ten men. BATE are a good enough side to play in the group stage, but they were a bit lucky today. Everything will be decided in Belgrade.