PFC Litex Lovech withstood a late fightback by Grasshopper-Club to start their UEFA Cup Group D campaign with a victory.
Milivoje Novakovič set the home side on course for victory with a goal inside 14 minutes at the Gradski stadium, and when Brazilian striker Sandrinho doubled the advantage with nine minutes remaining, the Bulgarian team looked on course for a comfortable win. Another Brazilian, Antonio, reduced the deficit in added time but it proved too little, too late, as Litex hung on for victory.
The result leaves Grasshoppers rooted to the foot of the section, adding to their 1-0 defeat against Middlesbrough FC on Matchday 1, but they will count themselves unlucky not to get something out of today's game. Indeed, they dominated the opening spell, with Rogerio thrashing a shot just past the upright on three minutes. But the home side withstood the early pressure, and were soon in front when Novakovič thumped in Stanislav Genchev's right-wing cross.
The visitors had to contend with a host of injuries going into the game, but made light of these as they soon regained the initiative, the lively Eduardo twice coming close midway through the half. Litex goalkeeper Vitomir Vutov nonetheless had little to do before Antonio forced him into a full-length save after unleashing a searing 20-metre effort ten minutes before the interval.
The Brazilian forced Vutov into another save soon after the restart but Litex slowly began to impose themselves, and Novakovič thought he had handed them a two-goal lead on 70 minutes. His celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee's flag, however, with Sandrinho adjudged to be in an offside position. The former EV Juventude midfielder soon made amends, firing in a low shot with less than ten minutes to go.
Antonio gave the visitors late hope, but Litex hung on to record a win in their first outing in the pool. Grasshoppers sit out Matchday 3, and their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages could look slim by the time they face FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on 30 November.