Bulgaria made it three wins from three EURO 2004™ Group 8 games, but they were made to work hard to secure a 2-1 win against a defiant Andorra side in Sofia.
Bulgaria, who were without their hero from the match against Croatia, Dimitar Berbatov, started positively early on. Gueorgui Chilikov, Berbatov's replacement, spurned an opportunity to open the scoring in the third minute, when he failed reach a cross from the left by Ivailo Petkov, and missed another chance ten minutes later, sending a header straight at the keeper.
Zoran Jankovic thought he had scored in the 16th minute, but his goal was ruled out for an earlier handball, and Andorra almost caught the Bulgarians on the break in the next attack, but goalkeeper Zdravko Zdravkov came out to deny Emiliano González.
A fine Gueorgui Peev cross from the left was wasted as three Bulgarian players failed to score at the far post on 20 minutes, but Peev was more successful eight minutes before the break when his cross found Chilikov who rose above the Andorran defence to head into the far corner.
Peev and Stilian Petrov both had chances to double the lead before half-time, but their long shots were both saved by Koldo Alvárez in the Andorra goal. The goalkeeper made his mark early in the second half, too, with saves from shots by Chilikov, Ivailo Petkov, and Peev.
After 54 minutes, Alvárez had the linesman to thank when Martin Petrov was adjudged offside after volleying into the top right-hand corner from a Chilikov lay-off. However, the 42,000 fans at the Vasilij Levski stadium were celebrating four minutes later as a magnificent free-kick by Bulgarian captain Krassimir Balakov swirled sweetly into the top left-hand corner of Alvárez’s goal.
Andorra strike back
Bulgaria lost concentration after going two up and were brought back down to earth when Antonio Lima pulled a goal back from a Justo Ruiz corner before being sent off after elbowing Vladimir Manchev.
'Another three points'
"It was not a very difficult game," Bulgaria coach Plamen Markov said. "We had control of the game for the most of the match, but we failed to convert our chances. What is important is that we won another three points and are moving closer to EURO 2004."