Late equaliser keeps Ludogorets Europa League hopes alive

Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad drew 2-2 against Liverpoool in their Uefa Champions League match in Sofia on November 26, keeping their hopes of a third-place finish and a spot in the Europa League knock-out rounds alive.

Dani Abalo opened the scoring for the hosts in the third minute, tapping in a rebound from short distance after Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet failed to hold onto the ball, but Liverpool equalised just five minutes later through Rickie Lambert, who took advantage of a poor clearance from a Ludogorets defender.

Despite having more possession, Ludogorets failed to create clear-cut chances and their biggest threat came from set pieces, while Liverpool remained dangerous on the break. It was just such a counter-attack that saw Raheem Sterling cross the ball into the path of Jordan Henderson, who converted to give the visitors the lead eight minutes before half-time.

In the second half, Liverpool looked more dangerous again, but the decision to sit back in the final 10 minutes, instead of pursuing a decisive goal, cost them dearly after Georgi Terziev equalised in the 88th minute from a corner kick.

The result, coupled with Basel’s 0-1 home loss to Real Madrid, leaves Liverpool and Basel in the race for the runner-up spot and a place in the knock-out rounds, while Ludogorets still has a chance to take third place and play in the Europa League. Real Madrid has won the group with five wins in as many matches.

To extend their European campaign into spring, Ludogorets will need to take points from Real in their final match at the Santiago Bernabeu on December 9. A win, however unlikely, would secure third place for Ludogorets, regardless of the outcome in the Liverpool vs Basel match on the same day. Should Ludogorets draw, they would need Liverpool to lose at home to grab third place.

(Ludogorets took an early lead through Dani Abalo’s goal in front of visiting fans, but the hosts did not hang onto their advantage for long. Screenshot from bTV)



The Sofia Globe staff

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