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.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com 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
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Basel v Manchester City, TBA 21:45
Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Real Madrid v PSG, TBA 21:45
Porto v Liverpool, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Chelsea v Barcelona, TBA 21:45
Bayern Munchen v Besiktas, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma, TBA 21:45
Sevilla v Manchester United, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 06 March 2018
PSG v Real Madrid, TBA 21:45
Liverpool v Porto, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Manchester City v Basel, TBA 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus, TBA 21:45
Logs
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
Vote

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? 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.