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Wellington denies Žilina victory

PFC Litex Lovech 1-1 MŠK Žilina
The visitors were prevented from taking a lead into next Wednesday's return in Slovakia by Wellington's close-range finish.

Issiaka Bello drives at the Litex defence
Issiaka Bello drives at the Litex defence ©Stoyan Georgiev

Wellington's goal 12 minutes from time earned PFC Litex Lovech a draw against MŠK Žilina in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie in Bulgaria.

The Lovech forward was in the right place to turn in Wilfried Niflore's volley from close range and ensure his side head to Slovakia next week on level terms. Žilina had opened the scoring midway through the second half when Tomáš Majtán converted a right-wing cross from captain Róbert Jež.

The best chances of an industrious, if unspectacular, first period arrived in added time, the lively Momodou Ceesay the first to threaten when he burst through the home defence and brought a low save out of Lovech goalkeeper Rodrigo Galatto. Lovech responded with Ivaylo Petkov firing a powerful effort at Martin Dúbravka, though they were fortunate to still be on level terms six minutes after the break when Emil Rilke fired into the side netting with only Galatto to beat.

Petkov came closer than anyone with a free-kick which rattled the post yet it was Žilina who landed the first telling blow, Majtán meeting a cross from the unmarked Jež on 65 minutes. The hosts introduced forward Florin-Daniel Bratu as they sought a swift response and were level on 78 minutes through Wellington. Angel Chervenkov's team could yet have won it in the dying stages had Ivelin Popov not shot wide following a goalmouth scramble.