Bulgaria Snatches 1:0 Win against Romania in Low-key Qualifier

Sports | November 17, 2007, Saturday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Snatches 1:0 Win against Romania in Low-key Qualifier Manchester City winger Martin Petrov (centre) celebrates Bulgaria's victory over Romania after putting up one of the best performances in his team. Photo by Nadya Kotseva (Sofia Photo Agency)

The Bulgarian national football team got only confidence boost on Saturday after snatching a 1:0 victory against Romania in a meaningless in terms of European qualifications match.

CSKA's Velizar Dimitrov nailed the sole goal with his head after an excellent pass by Manchester City winger Martin Petrov just six minutes into the first half.

The visitors broke more than once the porous defence of the Bulgarian team but failed to net a goal because of the quick reaction of goalkeeper Ivankov and pure bad luck.

Violence erupted among fans of the Romanian team during the break, who hurled a burning torch into the crowd of Bulgarian supporters. The timely reaction of the police however stopped the unruly fans from making the situation potentially explosive.

After the break the game was frequently interrupted and confirmed the impression of a languid match with intermittent attacks.

Romania has already booked their ticket to next summer's final tournament in Austria and Switzerland, while Bulgaria needs a spectacular, if unlikely, collapse from the Dutch to join its northern neighbour.

With Holland tipped as favourites to grab one of the spots, Saturday's encounter was long seen as the possible decider in the race for the other place, but two draws with Albania and a surprise win by Romania against Holland have rendered it meaningless in terms of qualifying.

Both nations had pride to play for, given the 18-month long media war between the two countries, sparked by ill-advised and insulting statements from Bulgaria's former national manager Hristo Stoichkov in the wake of the 2-2 draw between the two teams last year.

Stoichkov has quit earlier in the year, which has helped diminish the tension between the two camps, while Bulgaria's four-point gap to Holland and the cold weather in Sofia has shrunk the ranks of the fans willing to turn out for the match.

No more than 7,000 fans turned up at the 40,000-capacity Vassil Levski national stadium, despite calls for more support from players and officials, who have attempted to spur fans with memories of another match played on November 17.

In 1993, Bulgaria won a famous victory against France on the Parc des Princes to book their qualification for the 1994 World Cup, where they went on to reach the semi-finals and finished fourth.
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