Ludogorets Razgrad became the first Bulgarian team to win a match in the group stages of the Uefa Champions League after defeating Swiss champions Basel 1-0 in Sofia on October 22. Defender Yordan Minev scored the only goal, which was also his first for the club in all competitions, in added time.
Bulgaria’s three-time defending champions became only the second Bulgarian club to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League in August, following another late goal against Steaua Bucharest and the heroics of Romanian defender Cosmin Moti between the goalposts in the penalty shoot-out.
Moti, who is already set to have a stand in Ludogorets’ new stadium named after him, once again proved crucial for his team’s success, albeit in a different way this time – it was after a foul against the Romanian that Basel’s Geoffroy Serey Die was sent off in the 18th minute, giving Ludogorets a numerical advantage.
Ludogorets spent the rest of the match on the front foot, dominating possession but never really troubling Basel’s defence. Unable to break down their opposition, Ludogorets’ players often shot from the distance and, in the end, this approach was vindicated by Minev’s 20-metre strike.
After the match, Ludogorets head coach Georgi Dermendjiev said that his team played a perfect match in terms of tactics and dominated the second half, proving naysayers wrong by recording its first win in a tough group.
The victory also pushed Ludogorets to second place in group B after Liverpool lost at home to Real Madrid 0-3. Real have a perfect record in the group and the other three teams are all on three points, with Ludogorets edging ahead on goal difference. The Bulgarian champions next travel to Basel on November 4 before their last home match against Liverpool on November 26 and close their group campaign in Madrid on December 9.
(Photo: El Ronzo/flickr.com)