MINSK: BATE Borisov scored a last-minute winner to land the cup final in Belarus in one of the few countries still staging football in front of fans in defiance of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only 5,700 tickets were sold for the final as mass gatherings have continued in Belarus despite the coronavirus pandemic, albeit with rules about social distancing.

Many fans chose to ignore those rules and gathered in sections of the stadium.

BATE won with a goal in the last minute of extra time by Zakhar Volkov after a goal-mouth scramble. There was no attempt to maintain social distancing as Volkov was mobbed by his ecstatic team mates, while the players also embraced each other as they lifted the trophy in Minsk, which keeps the club on course to win a domestic double.

They lead the Belarusian league, which was the only domestic competition in Europe to continue without disruption despite the pandemic that caused the suspension of all the major leagues.

President Alexander Lukashenko has been bullish about the country’s response to the pandemic, saying “it’s better to die standing than to live on your knees” in March as the virus began to ravage the world and cripple the global economy.