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Montenegro miss chance to go top with Bulgaria draw

Published: Saturday 4 June 2011, 22.45CET
Montenegro 1-1 Bulgaria
Montenegro missed the opportunity to move two points clear of England in Group G after conceding their first qualifying goal to draw with Bulgaria.
by Aleksandar Radović
from Stadion Podgorica
Montenegro miss chance to go top with Bulgaria draw
Zlatko Kranjčar saw his side concede their first goal in qualifying ©Getty Images
Published: Saturday 4 June 2011, 22.45CET

Montenegro miss chance to go top with Bulgaria draw

Montenegro 1-1 Bulgaria
Montenegro missed the opportunity to move two points clear of England in Group G after conceding their first qualifying goal to draw with Bulgaria.

Montenegro missed the chance to take an outright lead in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group G as they were held by Bulgaria in Podgorica.

England's 2-2 draw with Switzerland earlier meant that Montenegro could have gone two points clear with victory. Although Radomir Djalović gave them a 53rd-minute advantage, Ivelin Popov responded 13 minutes later with the first goal that Montenegro had conceded in the group.

Zlatko Kranjčar's men were twice denied by the woodwork in the first period. After 37 minutes Savo Pavićević struck Nikolay Mihaylov's post with a powerful shot from 30 metres. Two minutes before the break, Marko Baša then rose above Bulgaria's defence and sent a header against the bar from a Nikola Drinčić corner.

Montenegro made the breakthrough soon after the restart when Djalović volleyed home Vladimir Božović's cross from a central position in the penalty box. Yet that merely served to spur Bulgaria into action.Hristo Yanev, who had provided the visitors' only shot on goal in the first half, went close before Popov levelled the scores.

Martin Petrov, who caused plenty of problems down the left flank, combined with Petar Zanev and crossed for Popov who made no mistake from close range. There were only intermittent threats thereafter, Vladimir Božović shooting over from the edge of the box at one end, and Mladen Božović thwarting Stanislav Manolev's dangerous effort for Bulgaria at the other.

Kranjčar said he was "satisfied" with his team's display adding: "The players gave their best and tried to win but Bulgaria produced a big effort too. After two draws in today's matches, the situation in the group remains the same so our fight continues."

His counterpart Lothar Matthäus argued that Bulgaria "played better in the second half and had the better chances" but added: "England and Montenegro can be happy as they kept their six-point advantage [over his team] and are closer to the EURO." Bulgaria host England on 2 September, when Montenego visit Wales.

Last updated: 01/08/11 10.52CET

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