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Impressive CSKA take command

PFC CSKA Sofia 3-0 Cliftonville FC
The Bulgarian side closed in on a place in the play-offs with a comfortable victory over ten-man Cliftonville.

Todor Yanchev captained CSKA to a comfortable first-leg win
Todor Yanchev captained CSKA to a comfortable first-leg win ©Getty Images

PFC CSKA Sofia took a big step towards a place in the UEFA Europa League play-offs with a 3-0 victory over Northern Ireland's Cliftonville FC in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie in the Bulgarian capital.

The home side took command early on through Pavel Vidanov's ninth-minute strike before two goals in the space of two minutes mid-way through the second half from Marquinhos and Rumen Trifonov ensured victory. Cliftonville's evening was compounded by the 84th-minute dismissal of Stephen Garrett.

The Belfast side had drawn 0-0 away to Croatia's HNK Cibalia on Thursday to earn a meeting with CSKA, but they quickly fell behind at the Vasil Levski National Stadium when a mix up in defence from the first corner of the game allowed Vidanov to touch in.

The home side produced the best of the attacking chances but it was not until the 72nd minute that they were able to press home their advantage, when Marquinhos completed a lovely flowing move to double the lead.

Two minutes later CSKA captain Todor Yanchev's long ball picked out Trifonov whose neat lob beat John Connolly to round off the scoring. A disappointing night for Cliftonville ended with Garrett's dismissal for a second yellow card on 84 minutes as CSKA take a commanding lead to Windsor Park for the return on 5 August.