UEFA Regions' Cup hosts South-East Region AMA of Bulgaria remain in contention to reach the final after Boris Galchev's 82nd-minute free-kick winner against Basse-Normandie AMA.
South-East Region had needed a similarly late equaliser to hold Tuzla Canton AMA here on Wednesday while France's Basse-Normandie went down 1-0 to a goal in the final ten minutes against Northern Ireland's Eastern Region AMA. The second defeat ends Basse-Normandie's hopes in Group A while the hosts are behind Tuzla only on goal difference.
Both coaches decided to make changes in their starting lineups; Basse-Normandie's Patrick Gonfalone introduced defenders Benjamin Tholmer and Jean-François Houivet, midfielder Abou Moussa and forward Florian Lair while the hosts' Angel Stankov selected Nikolai Boyadjieev up front and welcomed back Asen Valchev and captain Galchev from suspension, the latter to produce a match-winning performance.
Despite the hot conditions in Sliven each team attacked brightly from the off, and Tholmer, Emanuel Tison and Lair all threatened for Basse-Normandie. South-East Region's best first-half chance came just before the break but Emanuil Borisov was denied when through on goalkeeper Jérôme Mathurin.
However, as the game wore on and both sides pushed hard for the victory the referee was forced to hand out a number of bookings late on. But when the moment came for Galchev his free-kick from the left of the penalty area gave Mathurin no chance. Basse-Normandie captain Pierre-Yves Marie was sent off in the final minute for striking out at South-East Region substitue Ivan Petkov.
The win takes the hosts above Eastern Region into second. A draw against that side on Sunday would be enough to take the Bulgarian representatives into the final if Tuzla lost to Basse-Normandie in Radnevo; otherwise South-East Region must win and hope their result is not matched or bettered by the team from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
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