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Rudar limit Litex to one-goal lead

PFC Litex Lovech 1-0 FK Rudar Pljevlja
The Bulgarian titleholders had only Ivelin Popov's early goal to show for a dominant display against opponents who ended with ten men.

Ivelin Popov's early goal earned Litex a slender lead
Ivelin Popov's early goal earned Litex a slender lead ©Meridian Match

Ivelin Popov's goal was enough to earn PFC Litex Lovech a slender lead ahead of the second leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie against FK Rudar Pljevlja.

Rudar, 7-1 victors against SP Tre Fiori in the first round, will have to come from behind next week if they are to extend their European campaign. The Montenegrin titleholders, who were reduced to ten men when Mijuško Bojović was dismissed five minutes from time, find themselves in arrears following Popov's eighth-minute strike in Lovech.

It was a goal that rewarded Litex for starting in attacking fashion on home soil, Popov directing left-back Petar Zanev's cross over Miloš Radanović. Angel Chervenkov's side remained in the ascendancy, Brazilian wide players Francisco Da Silva and Wellington particularly threatening throughout.

The Bulgarian champions came close to doubling their lead on 27 minutes, Popov this time turning provider for Wilfried Niflore whose header was tipped onto the bar by Radanović. The visiting goalkeeper was on hand to deny the hosts twice more in quick succession, Niflore and Popov both threatening to stretch their side's advantage.

Home coach Chervenkov introduced summer signing Florin-Daniel Bratu 21 minutes from time and the Romanian nearly scored just five minutes into his competitive debut but shot over. Sandrinho also went close to adding a late second but Rudar hung on to restrict Litex's lead even after the dismissal of Bojović for a second booking.