Ludogorets v AEK Larnaca facts

A 1-1 draw in Cyprus did little for the Group A prospects of either Ludogorets or AEK Larnaca as they meet again.

AEK Larnaca's Igor Silva (left) in matchday three action with Wanderson of Ludogorets
AEK Larnaca's Igor Silva (left) in matchday three action with Wanderson of Ludogorets ©Getty Images

Ludogorets and AEK Larnaca are both up against it in their bid to qualify from UEFA Europa League Group A as they renew acquaintance in Razgrad a fortnight after drawing 1-1 in Nicosia.

• That result brought both clubs a first point in the section, but having each lost their opening two matches they now find themselves trailing group leaders FC Zürich by eight points and second-placed Bayer Leverkusen by five. Another draw would eliminate Ludogorets and AEK should Leverkusen simultaneously beat Zürich in Germany.

Previous meetings
• The 25 October encounter in Nicosia, in which a penalty from 36-year-old Spaniard Jorge Larena equalised an early strike from the visitors' Jody Lukoki, was the first time in UEFA competition that AEK had faced Bulgarian opposition and that Ludogorets had encountered a team from Cyprus.

Form guide
Ludogorets
• Ludogorets' seventh consecutive Bulgarian league title earned them a place in this season's UEFA Champions League first qualifying round. Having seen off Crusaders 9-0 over two games, they then lost to Hungarian champions Vidi to move into the UEFA Europa League, where they eliminated Zrinjski and Torpedo Kutaisi to reach the group stage of the competition for the second year in a row – and third time in all.

Highlights: AEK Larnaca 1-1 Ludogorets
Highlights: AEK Larnaca 1-1 Ludogorets

• The Razgrad club have been successful in each of their previous two UEFA Europa League group stage participations, reaching the round of 16 in 2013/14 and round of 32 in 2017/18. They also competed in the 2016/17 round of 32, having finished third in their UEFA Champions League group.

• Ludogorets had not conceded in four European home games this term until they went down 2-3 to Leverkusen on matchday one. Their UEFA Europa League group stage record in Bulgaria is W3 D2 L2.

AEK
• AEK qualified for this season's UEFA Europa League by winning the Cypriot Cup for the second time – and first in 14 years – after coming from behind to defeat Apollon 2-1 in the final. They are in Europe for the fourth successive season and in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the second time, having lost successive play-offs to Czech opposition in the last two campaigns.

• AEK took just one point from their three away games in the 2011/12 group stage, in a 0-0 draw at Schalke. They finished bottom of a section also comprising Steaua Bucureşti and Maccabi Haifa, registering five points.

• The club's matchday one defeat at home to Zürich (0-1) ended a seven-match unbeaten run in Europe (W4 D3). Their record away from home in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase was W1 D2 with just one goal conceded, but that tally was quadrupled on matchday two as they fell to a 4-2 defeat at Leverkusen.

Watch Ludogorets lose their first home Group A game
Watch Ludogorets lose their first home Group A game

Links and trivia
• AEK's added-time consolation strike in that defeat at Leverkusen was scored by substitute Dimitris Raspas, who thus became, at 17 years and 186 days, the fifth youngest goalscorer in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. The record still belongs to Romelu Lukaku, aged 16 years and 218 days when he scored for Anderlecht against Ajax in the inaugural 2009/10 season.

• Ivan Tričkovski's tally of six goals for AEK in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase was bettered by only two players – Aedeleke Akinyemi of Ventspils and Eirik Hestad of Molde, who both scored seven.

• Ludogorets striker Claudiu Keşerü, who opened the scoring in the 2-3 home defeat against Leverkusen on matchday one, holds the record for the fastest hat-trick scored in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, finding the net three times in ten minutes for FCSB against Aalborg in a 6-0 win on 18 September 2014.

The coaches
• Antoni Zdravkov is the new head coach of Ludogorets having stepped up from the assistant post he filled under previous boss Paulo Autuori, who left the club in early October. A former defender who began his playing career in the mid-1980s with Levski Sofia and played three times for Bulgaria, Zdravkov had a short spell as Levski coach before taking charge of Bulgaria's Under-21 side from October 2014 until June 2018, when he left to join Autuori at Ludogorets.

• A former Spanish international full-back who spent the vast majority of his career in Bilbao at Athletic Club, Andoni Iraola did not finish playing until November 2016, after 18 months of MLS football with New York City, and had no major coaching experience when he was announced as AEK's new manager in June 2018 in succession to compatriot Imanol Idiakez. He was a stalwart of the Athletic side that finished runners-up to Atlético Madrid in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League, and appeared in three Copa del Rey finals.

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