Pavel Kirylchyk's equaliser just eight minutes from time kept Belarus on course for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals, when it seemed they were heading for defeat against Group A rivals Croatia.
Mario Lucic had given Croatia the lead late in the first half, and after the break Croatia were largely dominant. But a cleverly-worked goal with a strong Kirylchyk finish took Belarus on to four points, and a final-day draw with Serbia and Montenegro on Tuesday will seal their progress.
Despite seeing his side shock Italy 2-1 on Thursday, Belarus coach Yuri Puntus rang the changes, bringing Aleksei Suchkou, Viktar Sokal, Pavel Shmihera, Maksim Tsyhalka, Pavel Biahanski and Kirylchyk into his starting lineup.
Da Silva in
There were three Croatian changes following their 3-2 defeat by Serbia and Montenegro; goalkeeper Marko Šarlija in for Tomislav Vranjic, midfield man Nikola Šafaric replacing Marijan Buljat and Brazilian-born forward Eduardo da Silva, having come on to score two days ago, for Mario Carevic.
With three points a necessity for Croatia with an eye to the semi-finals, they begun in dominant fashion and for the first 15 minutes Marko Babic, Darijo Srna and Danijel Pranjic gave Belarus plenty to defend. Yuri Zhaunov in the Belarussian goal was tested early on with high crosses, but on seven minutes could do nothing about a Niko Kranjcar shot that looped on to the crossbar and away.
Croatia withstood a spell of concerted Belarus pressure before taking the lead from a free-kick 25 metres out. Defender Lucic's shot was hit with power and swerve and although Zhaunov got a hand to the ball, he could not prevent the goal.
Sokal had time to shoot over the bar before the break, but his side went in behind. The excitement continued in the first minute of the second half, though, as Babic and Belarussian substitute Viachaslau Gleb forced each goalkeeper to make a save.
Croatia were looking for a second goal and Goran Ljubojevic tested the busy Zhaunov. A fine combination move involving Kranjcar and Da Silva also got behind the Belarussian defence before Aleksei Baga stepped in. After the hour mark, Belarus began to see more of the ball, but they were allowing spaces at the back as they pressed.
Indeed, Croatia's attacks remained dangerous, especially after the introduction of Domagoj Abramovic for Da Silva. There were several shots from long-range and Nikola Šafaric gave Zhaunov another save to make. However, with only eight minute remaining, Suchkou's high cross was headed back by Tsyhalka into the path of Kirylchyk, whose shot gave Marko Šarlija no chance.
It was harsh on Croatia, who had been the better team, and now victory against Italy on Tuesday is paramount. For Belarus, though, the dream of progress and a possible Olympic Games ticket is that much closer.