Aleksandar Tunchev blasted a spectacular first-half winner as unbeaten Bulgaria kept the pressure on the Group G leaders with a slender victory against lowly Luxembourg.
Up to second
The goal, a 25-metre drive into the top corner after 26 minutes, takes Bulgaria to two wins and two draws from their opening four UEFA EURO 2008™ games, and lifts them above Romania in the standings, just two points behind the Netherlands. Luxembourg, in contrast, are among six teams yet to register a qualifying point.
It took the Bulgarians just four minutes to show they could cope with the loss of the suspended Martin Petrov, their top scorer with four Group G goals. Valeri Bozhinov burst into the area and drilled the ball towards the bottom corner only to see Stéphane Gillet tip his effort around the post. Dimitar Telkiyski swung the ball into the box from the resulting corner, but Gillet was again alert to the danger and a stay of execution was granted to the minnows.
But, following some lacklustre attacking by Hristo Stoichkov's side, Bulgaria finally hit their stride with 26 minutes played. Telkiyski whipped a dangerous centre into the area, Dimitar Berbatov flicked it on and, arriving late, Tunchev drilled the ball into the top corner from distance. Telkiyski then had a couple of chances to double the advantage while Claudio Lombardelli and Aurelien Joachim threatened to hit back for Luxembourg.
It was to no avail though, and the teams went into the break with the scoreboard showing advantage Bulgaria. After the interval Chavdar Yankov and Telkiyski continued to keep Gillet busy, raining crosses on the Luxembourg goal. Jeff Strasser provided the occasional moment of inspiration for the hosts, although the best chance fell Bulgaria's way as Zoran Janković blazed wide late on as the action faded.