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Season review: Bulgaria

Published: Tuesday 4 June 2013, 11.00CET
PFC Ludogorets Razgrad retained the league title they won for the first time last year as they edged out PFC Levski Sofia on a dramatic final day, while PFC Beroe Stara Zagora lifted the cup.
by Stoyan Georgiev
from Sofia
Season review: Bulgaria
Litex's Georgi Milanov (right) was the star man in the Bulgarian league ©Meridian Match
Published: Tuesday 4 June 2013, 11.00CET

Season review: Bulgaria

PFC Ludogorets Razgrad retained the league title they won for the first time last year as they edged out PFC Levski Sofia on a dramatic final day, while PFC Beroe Stara Zagora lifted the cup.

On a dramatic final day PFC Ludogorets Razgrad stole the title from PFC Levski Sofia by a single point as the league enjoyed the most thrilling of climaxes. Levski could have made up for their cup final loss, but were defeated on penalties by PFC Beroe Stara Zagora, while the country's most exciting prospect, Georgi Milanov, lit up the league. 

Champions: PFC Ludogorets Razgrad
The Eagles retained the title in the most dramatic fashion. With 16 minutes remaining on the final day of the season it appeared Ivaylo Petev's side would have to settle for second, with Levski Sofia on course for the three points which would seal them the title against PFC Slavia Sofia. However, Blues defender Dimitar Vezalov turned into his own net to deny his side the win, allowing Ludogorets to nip in and steal the title by a point courtesy of their 3-0 victory at already relegated PFC Montana 1921.

Cup final: PFC Beroe Stara Zagora 3-3 PFC Levski Sofia 1914 (aet, Beroe win 3-1 on penalties)
Beroe clinched a second cup in four seasons from the spot after a thrilling six-goal final. Despite being down to ten men, and trailing 3-1 with 11 minutes remaining, Levski scored twice through João Silva and Garry Rodrigues to take the game to extra time, where Silva missed a point-blank header in the final minute. In the shoot-out five of the first six penalties were missed, but Ivo Ivanov, Borislav Stoichev and Elias converted to seal the triumph.

European places*
PFC Ludogorets Razgrad – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
PFC Beroe Stara Zagora – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
PFC Levski Sofia – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
PFC CSKA Sofia – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Georgi Milanov (PFC Litex Lovech)
The 2012/13 season was a memorable one for Litex's brightest star. In December the 21-year-old became the youngest man to pick up the Bulgarian player of the year award and continued his impressive performances in the new year. Also voted Bulgaria's finest by his fellow professionals, the Bulgarian international struck 16 goals in 27 league games.

One to watch: Todor Nedelev (PFC Botev Plovidv)
The 20-year-old pulled the strings in a side that impressed on their return to the top flight. Blessed with great skill and vision, Nedelev became an integral member of the side that secured fourth place.

©Meridian Match

Surprise package: PFC Beroe Stara Zagora
Having ended the first half of the season just above the relegation zone with 14 points, and with former Bulgarian international Petar Hubchev replacing Ivko Ganchev on the bench, relegation was a distinct possibility. However, after consolidating during the winter break, Beroe were a renewed force when the season resumed. They lost just two of their final 15 fixtures, ending seventh and capping the season with cup final success.

Leading scorer: Basile de Carvalho, PFC Levski Sofia (19)

Relegated: OFC Botev Vratsa, PFC Minior Pernik, PFC Montana 1921, FC Etar Veliko Tarnovo

Promoted: PFC Neftohimik 1962 Burgas, PFC Lyubimets 2007*

*The league will be restructured for 2013/14, reducing from 16 teams to 14. The division will split in two after 26 games, with the top seven playing home and away fixtures between them, as will the bottom seven.

Number: 16
The number of minutes Levski needed to hold on to their lead on the final day of the season to win the title from Ludogorets. Vezalov's own goal meant it was not to be.

Quote
"God loves Levski"
Levski Sofia president Todor Batkov credited divine intervention following a deflected added-time winner in the penultimate game against Ludogorets. A week later, however, the football gods were conspicuous by their absence.

Last updated: 04/06/13 11.05CET

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