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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Minnows to stay humble after shocking Bayern

BATE Borisov stun German giants but star midfielder Hleb says there's still a long way to go

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 1:36am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 2:20am

Former Arsenal star Aleksandr Hleb says BATE Borisov are keeping their feet firmly on the ground despite their shock 3-1 Champions League home win over last season's finalists Bayern Munich.

The Belarus champions earned their second European win to go top of group F with six points in Minsk after midfielder Aleksandr Pavlov and striker Vitali Rodionov put them 2-0 up with12 minutes left.

France winger Franck Ribery pulled back a 91st-minute consolation goal  but a brilliant Renan Bressan goal from a counter-attack, 10 minutes after he came off the bench, gave Viktor Goncharenko-coached BATE a deserved win.

The Bavarians suffered their first defeat in 10 games this season. It was also their first since losing the Champions League final at home to Chelsea on penalties in May.

"Bayern are still favourites in our group, we are taking it one match at a time," said 31-year-old Hleb, who played for Arsenal from 2005 until 2008.

"This is a sensational result for us. We will celebrate a bit but we need to keep working hard."

Defeat leaves Bayern with plenty to do if they are to emulate their run to last season's final as they face a tough trip to France to face Lille on October 23, while BATE host Valencia. 

"I knew before the match that we were up against a very good team," admitted Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.

"They are very well organised, especially in defence, which they have proved so again.

"We hit the post and the bar too, so we had some bad luck, but you have to take the lead in these games."

Meanwhile, all three British clubs in action enjoyed what could be invaluable away wins.

Celtic led the way with a 3-2 win at Spartak Moscow, their first win in 21 away Champions League games and first in Europe's premier club competition since beating Shamrock Rovers in 1986, when it was known as the European Cup.

Chelsea too ended a winless away streak - albeit only stretching back to October 2010 when they also beat Spartak Moscow - with a 4-0 win over Danish debutants FC Nordsjaelland, although the scoreline flattered the Premier League leaders. 

Manchester United  claimed  three points away from home with a 2-1 victory at Cluj - both goals coming from Robin van Persie - but it was by the skin of their teeth in the heartland of Transylvania.

Barcelona, beaten in the semi-finals by Chelsea last term, saw off Benfica 2-0 in Lisbon with Lionel Messi creating both their goals, one for Alexis Sanchez and the other for Cesc Fabregas.

Victory extended the 2011 champions' winning streak in all competitions this season to eight and kept them two points clear of Celtic in the group ahead of their forthcoming double header.

The only blip on the landscape for Barca was another injury to iconic central defender Carles Puyol, who had made a remarkably quick recovery from a knee injury but dislocated an elbow shortly after coming on as a substitute.

Celtic were on their way to another away defeat - they had lost their last 11 away - until the momentum swung their way shortly after the hour mark when, trailing 2-1 to the Russian side, the hosts had defender Juan Insaurralde sent off.

An own goal by Dmitri Kombarov and a last minute header from Greek international striker Giorgos Samaras sealed the points and left manager Neil Lennon a happy man.

"My players played exciting football tonight," he said. "It's fantastic that we managed to battle back and win in the second half as we were playing against very strong opponents.

"It's too early to make any conclusions as we have two matches with Barcelona ahead but we have already taken a big step forward."

Van Persie's brace - taking his total to seven in seven games for United - saw them come from behind and while Alex Ferguson was not happy with the defending for the goal they conceded he was content overall.

"To be fair we defended well apart from the goal. I've got to be pleased because Cluj have a good home record and coming away from home in Europe is never easy," said Ferguson, whose side top the group with six points from two matches, three clear of Cluj and Braga.

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