There was heartbreak for PFC Levski Sofia at the Vassil Levski as they bowed out of the UEFA Cup after a 8-7 penalty shoot-out defeat against SK Sturm Graz following a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Sturm substitute Charles Amoah was the hero of the night, beating Georgi Petkov in the Levski goal with the 18th and final penalty kick of the evening to take his side into the third round. It followed a miss by Levski substitute Danail Bachkov as the shoot-out went into sudden death.
It was hard on Levski who, after restricting Sturm to a 1-0 win at the Arnold Schwarzenegger stadium in the first leg of the tie, quickly levelled the scoring on home territory and should have gone on to win the game.
Sasa Simonovic opened the scoring after just six minutes, latching on to Miodrag Pantelic's fine ball from the right to beat Sturm goalkeeper Heinz Weber with a terrific low drive from the edge of the penalty area.
Sturm should have taken an overall lead in the tie four minutes later but Levski goalkeeper Petkov pulled off a terrific diving save to deny Alain Masudi's close-range volley, and they should have been made to rue that miss as the all-action Bulgarian side dominated the first half.
But for the profligacy of young striker Gueorgui Chilikov, Levski would have had the game sewn up long before half-time. He missed the target from a Pantelic cross from the right after 22 minutes, and repeated the feat with his feet from a Dimitar Telkiyski cross three minutes later.
The same player was off target with a fine shot on the turn after 33 minutes, but his team-mates may feel less inclined to be generous about his miss after 68 minutes from an Ilian Stoianov left-wing cross. He outpaced his marker only to head wide from just six metres.
While Sturm improved vastly in the second half, they showed little in terms of attacking until extra time, and they were almost made to pay for their lack of bite when Pantelic stormed through in the final minute of normal time and beat a defender only to drive his shot straight at Weber.
Off the crossbar
Weber was the hero in the third minute of added time as he turned a terrific Stoianov drive from 25 metres on to the crossbar, although in the 14th extra minute, Günther Neukirchner almost won the game for Sturm as he flashed a similar long-range effort just wide of Petkov's right-hand post.