Stefan Yurukov’s injury-time equaliser could not save PFC Litex Lovech, who exited the UEFA Cup 4-3 on aggregate against AEK Athens.
PFC Litex Lovech 1-1 AEK Athens FC (Aggregate: 3-4) Stefan Yurukov’s injury-time equaliser was not enough to salvage a UEFA Cup third-round victory for PFC Litex Lovech, who went out 4-3 on aggregate to AEK Athens FC in Bulgaria. Yurokov’s strike cancelled out Carlos Gamarra’s 16th-minute goal for the visitors, who progress to the competition’s last 16.
Themistoklis Nikolaidis missed a golden chance to open the scoring early on for AEK but they were not to be denied for long. Goalkeeper Vitomir Vutov blocked a Sotirios Konstantinidis shot from close range on the quarter-hour, but from Milen Petkov's ensuing corner Gamarra leapt highest to head the visitors into the lead.
AEK could have doubled their advantage in the next attack but a fine volley by Bulgarian international Milen Petkov was safely handled by Vutov.
After that, Litex's captain Hristo Yovov wasted a succession of free-kicks in good positions before AEK had another great opportunity for a second goal. However, Vutov pulled off a fantastic reflex save to deny Konstantinidis.
Litex coach Ferario Spasov made two substitutions at the start of the second half, including the addition of striker Yurukov who made an immediate impact. In the 54th minute, Yurukov headed the ball back for Kiril Nikolov, who fired in a powerful shot which was cleared off the line.
The Bulgarian side’s increasingly desperate attacks left Nikolaidis with plenty of space to exploit on the break and he missed a great chance to deliver the decisive blow in the 78th minute when his close-range effort was blocked by a defender.
Too little too late
Yurokov finally found the net for the hosts in injury time, heading home a right-wing cross from Murad Hidioued, but it was too little too late for Litex.