Group F of the Champions League remains wide open after Valencia won 3-0 at BATE Borisov and Bayern Munich edged Lille 1-0 on Tuesday.
Spanish side Valencia did not have an easy time of it against BATE before the break in Minsk, but Roberto Soldado’s converted penalty in the dying seconds of the first half helped them on their way, before the striker netted twice in the second half to claim a hat-trick.
The away side started the match the better of the two teams and came close to opening the scoring five minutes in.
Fernando Gago reached Soldado with a superb pass, but the Spain international’s powerful strike was kept out by Andrey Gorbunov.
Soldado again caused the BATE defence all kinds of trouble shortly when he nut-megged Egor Filipenko before setting up Andres Guardado.
However, the Mexican winger’s shot was too weak to trouble Gorbunov.
BATE then took the initiative and created a number of chances, with Vitali Rodionov among those to threaten.
The striker hesitated after being set up by Alexander Hleb, allowing Ricardo Costa to make a last-ditch clearance, while Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves only just intercepted a low cross from the left, preventing Rodionov from converting a tap in.
Alves also gathered a tame header from the striker off Maksim Bordachev’s excellent cross.
It was the visitors who eventually broke the deadlock, when Marko Simic pulled down Soldado inside the BATE area.
The referee had no other choice but to award a spot-kick, Soldado stepping up to take it himself, and easily slotted home.
Rodionov threatened again minutes into the second half, but Alves proved to be in fine form.
Valencia then broke on the counter-attack, and Soldado doubled his side’s lead with a well-taken volley after a Guardado cross from the left wing.
Both Guardado and Soldado could have made it 3-0 immediately after second goal, but the former’s attempt was blocked by the goalkeeper, while the latter’s shot was cleared off the goal-line.
The BATE defenders were unable to contain Soldado, and the striker appeared to have claimed his hat-trick after he slammed home a rebound from close range.
However, the linesman raised his flag and the goal was disallowed for offside.
Soldado would get his third of the evening only minutes later though.
Tino Costa managed to reach the prolific attacker despite the duo being outnumbered by the BATE defence, and the 27-year-old again showed his class with a calm finish.
Valencia and BATE have both collected six points from three games played, and share top spot with Bayern Munich following their 1-0 win away to Lille.
A penalty from Thomas Mueller in the 20th minute at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole secured maximum points for the Bundesliga team, leaving Lille bottom and without a point.
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