Bulgaria were left to rue a succession of missed chances, with Stilian Petrov and Svetoslav Todorov both denied by the woodwork, as they were held to a goalless draw by Albania in Sofia.
Albania went into the game with their defence unbreached in 138 minutes of UEFA EURO 2008™ Group G qualifying action but that record looked to be under threat in the opening stages. As early as the fourth minute, Zoran Janković and Dimitar Berbatov combined to create space for Petrov 20 metres from goal and the Aston Villa FC midfielder rattled the post with a sumptuous, bending effort. It would have been a dream moment for a player who recently rescinded his decision to retire from international football.
Petrov seemed intent on making up for lost time and together with Chavdar Yankov he dictated the midfield as the home team dominated. Yet for all their possession and territorial advantage, they could not fashion a breakthrough. Janković was denied by goalkeeper Arian Beqaj, while only a stunning block thwarted Igor Tomašić after the half-hour. Five minutes before the interval Berbatov did well to control a difficult ball and then lob it over a defender's head, only to blaze his volley well over the bar. It summed up the half for Bulgaria.
Bulgaria coach Hristo Stoichkov made a double change at the break, bringing on Todorov and Dimitar Telkiyski as the hosts laid siege to the Albania goal. Two minutes after the restart Georgi Peev lashed an effort straight at Beqaj, who made a similar intervention to frustrate Berbatov on the line soon after, though the keeper knew little about it. Todorov headed against the crossbar after the hour and although Stoichkov introduced yet another forward in Valeri Bozhinov, Albania held on.