The magnitude of Arsenal’s shock Europa League defeat by Bate Borisov was made clear when the Belarusian side were spotted feasting at a fast-food restaurant at Minsk airport on Friday morning.
Hours after their 1-0 victory over Unai Emery’s side, Bate’s players gathered in the Burger King restaurant in Minsk airport ahead of their flight to London ahead of next week’s second leg.
Bate’s players, including former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb, flew in economy class alongside travelling journalists and Arsenal supporters the morning after they had secured one of the greatest results in the club’s history.
BATE take a one-goal lead to the Emirates Stadium next Thursday thanks to Stanislav Dragun’s header on the stroke of half-time. It will be sure to prove an emotional return for Hleb, who made 130 appearances for Arsenal between 2005 and 2008.
Petr Cech felt a toothless attacking display from the Gunners was the reason behind their surprise Europa League defeat at BATE Borisov. He said: “It was one of those games where if we played for another couple of hours probably we wouldn’t have scored”.
“But there are games in football like that. You try, you play, the goal does not arrive and you have to go home with the result you don’t want but you have to pick yourself up and be ready for the second leg”.
Bate have been the champions of Belarus for the past 13 seasons but forward Nemanja Milic was the only one of their starters who was signed for a transfer fee. Milic cost £135.000 when he was recruited from Red Star Belgrade earlier this year. Bate’s transfer record is currently around £850.000 – a figure which Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil earns in less than three weeks.