Ludogorets carry on winning

Dmitri Bezotosny's butter-fingered blunder gifted Ludogorets a 1-0 victory away to Chornomorets Odesa as the Bulgarians marched closer to the Europa League knockout stages.

Last Updated: 24/10/13 at 22:59 Post Comment

Ludogorets are closing in on a place in the last 32

Ludogorets are closing in on a place in the last 32

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The 29-year-old goalkeeper was a hero of the play-off round win against Albanian side Skenderbeu, saving two penalties in the shoot-out that saw Chornomorets through to the competition proper.

But he was the unfortunate villain of the piece on Thursday night in Odessa as he let a 30-yard free-kick strike from Hristo Zlatinski whistle by him, rather than make a routine catch, to allow Ludogorets to claim a 1-0 away win.

Ludogorets had already beaten PSV Eindhoven and Dinamo Zagreb to make a stunning start to their campaign, and a third victory sees them open up a five-point lead at the top of Group B.

They absorbed plenty of pressure on this occasion, and reaped their reward.

Chornomorets had the better chances in the opening half-hour, with Volodymyr Pryyomov having a 20-yard strike comfortably handled by Vladislav Stoyanov before Oleksiy Antonov went closer, seeing his strike from a similar range tipped wide by the goalkeeper.

Ludogorets showed menace for the first time when Virgil Misidjan drilled a shot wide.

The decisive breakthrough came in the 44th minute. Markus Berger gave away a set-piece 30 yards from goal, in a central position, as he fouled midfielder Marcelinho.

Berger was booked but there was worse punishment to come.

Zlatinski stepped up and lashed an ambitious left-footed drive that went wide of a three-man wall and hurtled towards Bezotosny.

His positioning appeared fine, but rather than catch, punch or parry the ball he let it bypass the weakest of grasps and ripple the net behind him.

Chornomorets had second-half openings, with Franck Dja Djedje clearing the bar from the edge of the penalty area with his left foot before Pryyomov sent a shot from closer in scuttling wide of the left post.

Ludogorets brought on Michel Platini - not the UEFA president and former France captain but a player named in his honour - late on, as they survived to the final whistle with their slender, fortuitous lead.

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