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Castelen puts Hamburg on course

PFC Litex Lovech 0-1 Hamburger SV The visitors took a step towards a place in the UEFA Cup group stage as Romeo Castelen struck to earn an away win.

Hamburger SV took a tentative step towards a place in the UEFA Cup group stage as Romeo Castelen struck midway through the second half to earn a 1-0 victory away to PFC Litex Lovech.

Bulgarian omen
The Bundesliga outfit arrived at the Gradski Stadium having won their five previous games against Bulgarian opposition in UEFA club competition, but were forced to work hard to make it six. With Sandrinho and Wellington pulling the strings in midfield, the home side always looked a threat until Castelen struck with 15 minutes remaining, collecting a pass from Rafael van der Vaart, riding Mihail Venkov's challenge and firing past goalkeeper Todor Todorov.

Late save
It was a huge blow for Litex, who had gone close to breaking the deadlock themselves minutes earlier when it took a stunning save from Frank Rost to keep out a Fabien Boudarène effort. Rost was the busier goalkeeper throughout though the best chance of the first half fell to Thimothée Atouba, and Todorov did well to deny him. Litex went close themselves soon after half-time when Wellington forced another smart save from Rost, yet after Castelen made it 1-0 there was no way back for the Bulgarian outfit. Indeed, they had Todorov to thank for keeping them in the tie ahead of the return on 4 October, as he saved Piotr Trochowski's blistering late effort.