Lille earned a win in Minsk for their first points of the Champions League group stages, a result that virtually condemns BATE Borisov to the Europa League despite their strong start to their European campaign. Itching for revenge after being embarrassed in France on match day one, Rudi Garcia completely reshuffled his side, playing a 'second string' team that rewarded their managed with a not-very-close 2-0 win.
Borisov were perhaps the better side in the early stages, controlling the midfield and making threatening noises whenever they got near Steeve Elana's goal. However, their moves never really gave the keeper much to do -- they had a tendency of breaking down one or two passes before the hosts had a chance to shoot.
That definitely wasn't true of Lille's vicious counterattacks. The combination of Ronny, Bruno and Salomon Kalou were rapier-like on the attack, and it was from a driving run up the pitch that the opener was scored. Although the initial foray forward was defended well enough, an unfortunate tackle by Denis Polyakov saw the ball ping out to Idrissa Gueye in the right channel. Gueye cut inside before unleashing an astonishing shot which beat Andruy Gorbanov easily, hitting the bottom of the grossbar and then the far post before settling into the back of the net.
BATE stepped things up after that, pushing more bodies forward, but that only served to open up their back line yet further. They paid the price in the 31st minute, when left back Lucas Digne was able to surge forward and deliver a low cross through the six yard box. Bruno escaped his marker to convert from close range.
The hosts' only reply was an admittedly ferocious long-range shot off the boot of Aliaksandr Volodko, hit right at Elana, and it was LOSC who looked more likely to add to the scoreline. Just before halftime, Bruno missed a chance for his brace when he set a Kalou cutback into low earth orbit from eight yards out.
The second half was... well, pretty dull. Djibril Sidibe, who was living on the edge all evening, gave BATE at least some hope when his lunge on Maksim Bordachev was rewarded with a second yellow card, but despite looking slightly more dangerous after Lille went down to ten men the Belarusians still completely failed to do anything productive.
The win doesn't do much for Lille, but dropping points here makes BATE hugely unlikely to advance to the next round. They've got to first hope that Valencia and Bayern Munich don't play out a draw at the Mestalla which would be hugely convenient for both sides, and then even if Bayern end up losing at Spain have to travel to the Allianz Arena and win there. Don't bet on it.