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Belgrade win Group 5 lottery to reach finals

Belgrade will compete at this summer's UEFA Regions' Cup finals in Portugal yet it took the drawing of lots to decide the outcome of an evenly-matched Group 5 mini-tournament in Bulgaria.

Belgrade qualified for the UEFA Regions' Cup finals after the drawing of lots in Bulgaria
Belgrade qualified for the UEFA Regions' Cup finals after the drawing of lots in Bulgaria ©UEFA.com

Serbia's Team Belgrade won the seventh place in June's UEFA Regions' Cup finals but it took the drawing of lots to deny Bulgarian hosts South West Region a place in the showpiece event in Portugal.

Three sides finished level on five points in the mini-tournament, but while Western Slovakia's inferior goal difference saw them miss out on qualification, there was absolutely nothing to separate the top two sides in the section who finished with identical qualifying records. In accordance with tournament regulations, the UEFA delegate drew lots at the base hotel to decide the winners, with Belgrade the lucky side.

"We had a great tournament and deserved to be in the finals, but unfortunately luck was against us," said SW Bulgaria coach Ivan Stoychev.

The top three sides in the section all drew 0-0 against each other, with the only goals being scored against Eastern Region Northern Ireland; Belgrade and SW Bulgaria beat Harry McConkey's side 2-0 but Slovak Western Region could only manage a 1-0 victory.

Vlada Tomić's Belgrade took on Northern Ireland in their first game, going ahead through Igor Stanojević. However, while their passing football marked them out as top competitors, it was a dose of luck that handed them what proved to be a crucial second goal, with goalkeeper Graham McKibbin unable to get back into his box after coming up for a corner at the death, leaving Stefan Stefanović to score into an empty net on the counterattack.

Ernest Fulmek scored Western Slovakia's only goal against Northern Ireland on Matchday 2, but with their 0-0 draw against Belgrade on the final day, a 3-0 win against Northern Ireland would have put SW Bulgaria through. Georgi Fikiyn put his side ahead on 68 minutes but was sent off four minutes from the end, though his side swiftly added a second goal from the penalty spot on 87 minutes, with Ivan Mihaylov finding the target.


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