Valencia: Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli scored twice to help Valencia beat BATE Borisov 4-2 at home Wednesday and take the lead in Group F in the Champions League. Valencia jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the 51st minute and then held off a comeback attempt by the Belarusian club, which had surprisingly topped the group after three rounds. Valencia are now tied with Bayern Munich on nine points from four games but with better goal difference, with BATE in third place on six points.
"We still have to play against Bayern here, and that will be a decisive game," Valencia coach Mauricio Pellegrino said. "I think the group is still not completely over." Valencia's Brazil forward Jonas fell to the ground with an apparent injury in the opening moments of the match but recovered after treatment and gave the hosts the lead in the 27th minute when he controlled a cross from Tino Costa and beat BATE goalkeeper Andrei Gorbunov. BATE players signaled to the referee that Jonas had used a hand to stop the ball in the buildup, but the complaints were waved off.
Soldado then doubled the lead with a penalty three minutes later after defender Denis Polyakov had fouled midfielder Andres Guardado in the six-yard box. Guardado had controlled a pass and wrong-footed Polyakov, who then tripped him. A visibly emotional Soldado dedicated the goal to his grandfather, who died on Sunday. The striker boosted his tally to 16 goals in 20 Champions League games. "We knew it would be a very difficult game," Feghouli said. "Getting nine points was crucial and I'm delighted with my two goals and the team's attitude. Our aim now is to win the next two matches and give our fans a win against a big club." The French-born Feghouli, who is known locally as "the next Zinedine Zidane," hit Valenica's third in the 51st minute after deftly controlling Fernando Gago's pass.
BATE coach Viktor Goncharenko was visibly agitated after seeing the ease with which Gago was able to make the cross. "We made many mistakes in midfield and that eventually leads to conceding goals," Goncharenko said. "But I liked how we reacted after losing the first half 2-0." Midfielder Renan Bressan pulled one back for BATE in the 53rd and Dmitri Mozolevski made it 3-2 in 20 minutes later. But Feghouli made the game safe with his second goal in the 86th. Maksim Bordachev received a yellow card in the 25th for fouling Roberto Soldado while the Valencia player was not in possession of the ball. The Belarusian international appeared to be reacting to a previous incident when Soldado seemed to hit the defender in the stomach, which was unseen by match officials.