Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
Denis Laptev’s late goal from the bench saw Belarus overcome Andorra to extend their unbeaten run over the Tricolours to five games and go within one point of fourth place Kosovo in Group I of UEFA Euro Qualification (ECQ).
With both sides already eliminated from qualifying, there was nothing but pride on the line for Belarus and Andorra in Group I. For Andorra, it was the chance to end a torrid run of form which has seen them pick up one win in 68 European qualifiers. Belarus, meanwhile, had the chance to at least save face and avoid becoming rooted to the bottom of their group and below their opponents.
But with both nations scoring just 10 goals combined in their last eight group games, it came as no surprise that neither goalkeeper was unduly troubled.
It wasn’t until late on in the half that one of the shot-stoppers were called into action, with Márcio Vieira’s headed effort towards the bottom left-hand corner well saved by a diving Sergey Ignatovich. It was then the turn of Iker Álvarez to spring into action, denying Morozov’s strike in a busy period before the break.
The second half saw the goalmouth action pick up where it left off, as both goalkeepers were once again forced into action. Once again, however, the game remained without a goal, with neither Dmitri Antilevski or Morozov able to convert their chances just before the hour mark.
It looked as though the two nations were on course to repeat their 0-0 draw two months ago, but Belarus had other ideas, finding the opening goal through Laptev from the bench in the 83rd minute. The substitute found the bottom left-hand corner from outside the area in superb fashion, handing his country just their second group win in their last six games, while creating a seven point gap on bottom side Andorra.
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