Two first-half goals and an impressive performance throughout gave Bulgaria a 2-0 win against Croatia in their EURO 2004™ qualifying tie in Sofia to put them in pole position in Group 8.
Plamen Markov's side proved that their 2-0 opening-night victory in Belgium was no fluke with an exceptional display against Otto Baric's men and thoroughly deserved the win after strikes from Stilian Petrov and Dimitar Berbatov.
Bulgaria had started the game looking the more determined team, and they had already caused their opponents a few scares with some fine moves down the right before Petrov opened the scoring after 22 minutes.
Berbatov's pass bisected the Croatian defence allowing the Celtic FC striker to advance into the area and beat the onrushing Stipe Pletikosa with a low shot that nestled in the left-hand corner of the goal.
Boksic goes close
Croatia may have felt aggrieved to have been behind after Alen Bokšic's header flashed across the face of Zdravko Zdravkov's goal after just seven minutes, but as their confidence wilted, the home side took absolute control.
Berbatov had already gone close on the half-hour, cheekily backheeling Martin Petrov's near-post ball at the target only for Dario Šimic to clear off the line, before he doubled the lead after 37 minutes.
Martin Petrov's long cross from the right went over Igor Tudor's head, allowing the Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker to chest down before prodding the ball across Pletikosa and into the net for what proved to be the game's final goal.
After that disastrous first half, Croatia redoubled their efforts in the second period but as they tried to unpick the Bulgarian defence with a succession of quick passes, their final ball repeatedly let them down and they were to provide few threats to Zdravkov.
Indeed, it was Gueorgui Chilikov - a first-half substitute for Berbatov - who came closest to scoring, twice forcing Pletikosa to make good saves in the 55th minute.