Champions League

Ludogorets remain upbeat

2014-09-17 16:00
Georgi Dermendzhiev (Getty Images)

Sofia - Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets left Anfield empty handed after losing 2-1 to Liverpool in their Champions League debut on Tuesday but their disappointment was offset by continuing optimism for the future.

"You know what the Liverpool budget is?

"They're five-time winners and you saw the crowd but I didn't see a significant difference (on the field)," said Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendzhiev.

"And they kept (rested) some of their key players in their previous game, so they could play against us."

Ludogorets lost to a penalty in added time when their Canada stopper Milan Borjan, who only joined the club on Saturday to solve a goalkeeping crisis, failed to clear a backpass, lost the ball and tangled with Javi Manquillo, giving away the spot kick.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to score the winner in a pulsating Group B match in front of The Kop with his 40th European goal as The Reds returned to the Champions League after five-year absence.

It was a desperately harsh outcome for the Bulgarians, who matched the hosts for long periods of the game and could easily have taken the lead when Slovenian striker Roman Bezjak smashed a shot against the post 18 minutes from time.

A more accurate finish from Borjan and Ludogorets would have bucked the trend after a painful history of Champions League defeats for the Balkan country.

Ludogorets are only the second Bulgarian team to compete in the group stage of Europe's premier club tournament after Levski Sofia, who finished bottom without a point in 2006.

Dermendzhiev said he could not have asked for any more from his unheralded players.

"I feel for the lads but there's no way back now," he said. "We're really close, we only needed to hold (on) for a minute or a minute and a half. But I remain confident. I work with a lot of good players who can play at a top European level."

Ludogorets fans hailed their team's spirited performance at Anfield, their only regret being that Slovenian referee Matej Jug did not send Borjan off for his last-gasp foul on Manquillo.

"If that was the case, Cosmin Moti had to go in goal for the penalty and we all know what happens when he's acting as a keeper," Ludogorets fan Hristo Boyadzhiev told Reuters.

"It would have made our debut even more memorable."

Romania centre back Moti had to go in goal for the penalty shootout in the second leg of Ludogorets' Champions League playoff tie against Steaua Bucharest and saved two spot kicks to help send his side through.

He became such a hero that the club have decided to name a stand after him at their stadium.

Ludogorets, based in the small town of Razgrad, were playing in the domestic third division four years ago but then won two successive promotions and three consecutive league titles.

The Eagles will play their Champions League home matches at the Vasil Levski national stadium in Sofia because their 8,000-capacity Ludogorets Arena is not suitable to host such games.

Ludogorets, who enjoyed a 16-game Europa League campaign in which they reached the last 16 last season, will make their home debut on Oct. 1 when they face holders Real Madrid.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

01 November 2016
Besiktas v Napoli, Vodafone Arena 19:45
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Celtic, Borussia-Park 21:45
Benfica v Dynamo Kyiv, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Barcelona, Etihad Stadium 21:45
PSV v FC Bayern München, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Paris Saint-Germain, St Jakob-Park 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v Arsenal, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v FC Rostov, Vicente Calderon 21:45
02 November 2016
FC Porto v Club Brugge, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Juventus v Lyon, Juventus Stadium 21:45
FC København v Leicester City, Parken Stadion 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Real Madrid, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Sevilla v Dinamo Zagreb, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Sporting Lisbon, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v CSKA Moscow, Stade Louis II 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Wembley 21:45
22 November 2016
CSKA Moscow v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Arena CSKA 19:00
Sporting Lisbon v Real Madrid, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Leicester City v Club Brugge, King Power Stadium 21:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Lyon, Maksimir 21:45
FC København v FC Porto, Parken Stadion 21:45
Sevilla v Juventus, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Legia Warsaw, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v Tottenham Hotspur, Stade Louis II 21:45
23 November 2016
FC Rostov v FC Bayern München, Olimp-2 Stadium 19:00
Besiktas v Benfica, Vodafone Arena 19:45
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Manchester City, Borussia-Park 21:45
Celtic v Barcelona, Celtic Park 21:45
Arsenal v Paris Saint-Germain, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Napoli v Dynamo Kyiv, San Paolo 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v FC Basel, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v PSV, Vicente Calderon 21:45
06 December 2016
FC Bayern München v Atlético de Madrid, Allianz Arena 21:45
Barcelona v Borussia Mönchengladbach, Camp Nou 21:45
Benfica v Napoli, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Celtic, Etihad Stadium 21:45
Dynamo Kyiv v Besiktas, Kiev Olympic Stadium 21:45
Paris Saint-Germain v Ludogorets Razgrad, Parc des Princes 21:45
PSV v FC Rostov, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Arsenal, St Jakob-Park 21:45
07 December 2016
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Monaco, BayArena 21:45
FC Porto v Leicester City, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Club Brugge v FC København, Jan Breydelstadion 21:45
Juventus v Dinamo Zagreb, Juventus Stadium 21:45
Lyon v Sevilla, Parc OL 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Sporting Lisbon, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v CSKA Moscow, Wembley 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will be the 2015/16 Champions League top scorer?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.