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Ludogorets come from behind to edge Partizan

Ludogorets Razgrad 2-1 Partizan
The Bulgarian title holders recovered from a goal down to establish a slender first-leg advantage over Vuk Rašovic's visitors.

Brazilian midfielder Marcelinho, scorer of Ludogorets' first goal
Brazilian midfielder Marcelinho, scorer of Ludogorets' first goal ©Getty Images

PFC Ludogorets Razgrad recovered from a goal down to beat FK Partizan in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie in Bulgaria.

After a goalless opening period Saša Marković put the visitors ahead early in the second half, only for Ludogorets to draw level through Marcelinho five minutes later. Stoicho Stoev's side then added a second, substitute Mihail Aleksandrov capitalising on a defensive mix-up soon after the hour mark to seal a narrow win for the hosts.

Ludogorets shaded a tightly contested first half and twice came close to taking the lead through Roman Bezjak. The striker brought a fine reaction save from Milan Lukač on 18 minutes before sending a low shot marginally wide of the target moments before the interval.

It would be Serbian title holders Partizan that struck first, however, Marković pouncing on an error from Marcelinho to stab home. The latter had also squandered a gilt-edged chance at the other end just minutes earlier but quickly made amends, poking impudently past Lukač to restore parity after neat build-up play from Ivan Stoyanov.

With the wind back in their sails, Ludogorets pressed forward and found a winner on 65 minutes. There appeared little danger to Vuk Rašovic's men when Júnior Caiçara cleared the ball upfield but a misjudgement by Ivan Ivanov allowed the alert Aleksandrov to advance on goal. The 24-year-old skipped beyond Lukač and evaded the attentions of Milan Obradović to slot into the empty net.

Partizan midfielder Miloš Jojić was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence, before Fábio had the opportunity to extend the Bulgarian champions' advantage in the 88th minute. The Portuguese was unable to find a way past Lukač, however, meaning Ludogorets must content themselves with a one-goal cushion ahead of next week's second leg in Belgrade.

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