PFC Ludogorets Razgrad 2-2 Liverpool FC
Georgi Terziev's late equaliser could not save his own team but still inflicted a blow against Liverpool's chances of progressing from Group B.
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• Dani Abalo opens the scoring with the hosts' first attack
• Rickie Lambert finds a quick response, nodding in five minutes later
• Ludogorets have more possession but Jordan Henderson nets from Raheem Sterling assist
• After half-time both sides have chances but cannot finish – until Georgi Terziev's late header
• Next games: Liverpool v Basel, Real Madrid v Ludogorets (9 December)
PFC Ludogorets Razgrad had Georgi Terziev to thank after his 88th-minute equaliser denied Liverpool FC what would have been a vital Group B victory in Sofia and earned the hosts a rousing point – although it was still not enough to keep his team in qualifying contention.
Instead of losing 2-1 to a Liverpool side playing catch-up on second-placed FC Basel 1893, with Rickie Lambert and Jordan Henderson having replied to Dani Abalo's third-minute opener for the Bulgarian title holders, Terziev nodded past Simon Mignolet after Svetoslav Dyakov flicked on a Wanderson corner. The late leveller could not save Ludogorets from elimination but nonetheless damaged Liverpool's chances as only a home win against Basel – who are two points better off – on matchday six will now suffice.
If the evening started with local fans discussing the merits of coach Georgi Dermendzhiev replacing injured forward Roman Bezjak with midfielder Dani Abalo and not striker Younes Hamza, the Spaniard put a quick end to the debate. Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet could not handle a shot from Marcelinho and the makeshift attacker took his opportunity for 1-0. The 27-year-old Abalo had also scored in the 2-1 defeat at Anfield.
After clearing their heads, Liverpool produced a quick riposte. Ludogorets defended a long ball with fatal hesitancy and Lambert headed beyond Vladislav Stoyanov with two defenders stood watching. It was the England forward's first UEFA Champions League goal.
The highly motivated hosts reacted positively, belying their bottom ranking in the section, and were nearly rewarded when Kolo Touré almost turned an Aleksandar Aleksandrov cross into his own net. Troubled by Ludogorets's rapid attacking players, Brendan Rodgers' men were living dangerously.
However, backed by about 2,000 travelling fans, the visitors resisted, improved and even managed to claim a half-time lead. With 37 minutes played, Raheem Sterling was too fast for the right side of the home back line and put in a perfect pass to Henderson, who did well to squeeze the ball over Stoyanov.
Come the second half Ludogorets attempted to regain the initiative but were not as menacing as in the opening 45. A Virgil Misidjan effort and Fábio Espinho free-kick were their only real chances, whereas the fleet-of-foot Sterling again turned provider for the Reds, only Lambert's header was blocked and, following up, Henderson fired over from seven metres. Stoyanov also denied the Liverpool winger in a one-on-one situation before, in a late twist to the plot, Terziev conjured the Ludogorets equaliser from a corner.