Energetik-BGU battled to a 2-0 victory over local rivals FC Minsk in a top-of-the-table clash in the Belarusian Premier League – the only top-flight European division still persevering during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Belarusian league has been gaining traction in recent weeks given the nation’s defiant stance regarding coronavirus. As of April 4, 440 cases and five deaths were recorded in Belarus, and the numbers have not been enough to persuade President Alexander Lukashenko into implementing restrictions or halting sport.
Lukashenko has even urged civilians to drink vodka and visit saunas to prevent catching the virus, and so it was no surprise to see the third matchweek of the Belarusian Premier League take place over the weekend.
A league on its own: An afternoon watching the defiant Belarusian Premier League
On Sunday afternoon, it was first-placed Energetik-BGU who maintained their perfect start to the season with a victory over FC Minsk, who drop down to third.
Aleksey Nosko gave the hosts the lead after 21 minutes, and BGU not only held on after Aik Musahagian was sent off for a second yellow with 20 minutes to go, but extended their lead in stoppage time when the impressive Jasurbek Yakhshiboev got the goal his performance deserved.
What else… A typical Eurosport report spends a paragraph highlighting the game’s biggest flash point – what the result means, how certain tactics played out, and so on – but it is difficult to select anything trivial when the biggest talking point is the fact the match and league as a whole is still going ahead while the coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc on the sporting calendar elsewhere.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jasurbek Yakhshiboev – Regardless of the circumstances, there was still 90 minutes of football to take in, and Yakhshiboev was undoubtedly the standout player. The Uzbekistan 22-year-old looked a level above at times, dancing through Minsk’s defence with ease and rounding off a fine performance with a well-take goal in injury time.
Energetik-BGU: Sadovsky 7, Atemengue 7, Girs 6, Yakhshiboev 8, Mawatu 6, Musahagian 5, Nosoko 6, Shkurdyuk 6, Sokol 6, Svirepa 6, Tweh 7. Subs: Umarov 6, Yudchits 6.
Minsk: Leonov 6, Chagovets 5, Gribovski 5, Khvashchinskiy 5, Nasibulin 5, Prischepa 5, Sazonchik 6, Shramchenko 5, Vasyliev 6, Yarotski 5, Zaleski 5. Subs: Ostroukh 6, Vasilyev 6.
21’ - GOAL! Energetik take a deserved lead! Yakhshiboev sees his attempt from a narrow angle saved, but it falls kindly into the path of captain Nosko, who strokes the ball in from 10 yards out!
45’ - HUGE SAVE! Not sure how the Minsk goalkeeper has kept that out! But he denies Atemengue with a superb point-blank save, with the ball looping into the air and just about going over the bar.
60’ - SIDE NETTING! The ball is played over to Ostroukh, who is in acres of space and has time to line up a shot from about 10 yards out at an angle, but he can only fire it into the side netting... The substitute is right to look disappointed with himself.
71’ - RED CARD! BGU are down to 10 men! Musahagian is late with the tackle and that's enough to earn the No.18 a second yellow. He picked up his first midway through the first half.
87’ - SAVE! Sadovsky to the rescue for BGU as he keeps out Vasilyev's low attempt... it goes out for a corner... OVER! From six yards out Khvashchinskiy can only head over, a difficult chance as he was stretching for it.
90+2’ - GOAAAAALLL!!! BGU GET THEIR SECOND! That's game over. BGU go on the break, and it's No.7 Jakhshibaev (or Yakhshiboev) who bears down on goal before squeezing the ball in from a narrow angle. He has been the standout player this afternoon, and that strike means BGU will maintain their 100% start to the season.
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