The new hero of the PFC CSKA Sofia faithful, Leo Lima, scored a penalty in the final minute to ensure that the Bulgarian champions defeated FC Pyunik in both legs of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie.
CSKA could afford to approach tonight's return fixture in relaxed mood after their 2-0 victory in Armenia. It showed as Pyunik had the better of the play, only for their captain, Valeri Aleksanyan, to handle in the area in the 89th minute to gift Lima an opportunity to win the game from the spot. CSKA now meet Galatasaray SK for a berth in the group stage.
Yanev provides spark
A young Pyunik side dominated vast periods of the match at the Bulgarska Armia stadium and had a number of chances to haul themselves back into the tie, yet their finishing lacked the penetration of their approach play. The introduction of Hristo Yanev midway through the second half signalled an upturn in CSKA's fortunes, culminating in their late winner.
'Pyunik played well'
CSKA coach Stoytcho Mladenov was honest in his assessment of his side's display, saying: "I am satisfied with the result, but not with the performance. Pyunik played very well and deserved a draw. We were forced to play very defensively and I cannot accept that at a home game."
Mladenov also confirmed that influential defender João Carlos is likely to miss the games against Galatasaray after a calf injury forced the Brazilian to leave the action late on. "We have to wait for the medical examinations and results but the news is not good," said Mladenov, adding: "We will have to be at our best against Galatasaray but I am sure we will play much better."
Pyunik coach Mihai Stoichita said: "We are very young side. Half of the players today are 17 and 18 years old. We need to play with patience - in the first half we missed three good chances and if we had managed to convert them it could had been a different story."
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