Bulgaria deny Russia fourth straight Group 2 win

Bulgaria 3-3 Russia
Twice behind, the hosts hit back to end Russia's perfect record in Group 2 despite another double from visiting striker Konstantin Bazelyuk.

Bulgaria's Milen Gamakov makes headway in Stara Zagora
Bulgaria's Milen Gamakov makes headway in Stara Zagora ©beroe.bg

Russia twice surrendered the lead as they played out a 3-3 draw with Bulgaria which ended their unblemished record in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 2.

Having beaten their opponents 3-1 in Khimki last month, the visitors were on course for another victory – which would have been their fourth in as many matches – after eight minutes when Konstantin Bazelyuk was released by Vladimir Obukhov and made no mistake in front of goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov.

The hosts replied swiftly through Stefan Velkov, the 16-year-old heading in Bozhidar Vasev's free-kick from the right, and were in front by half-time courtesy of captain Ivaylo Chochev's low strike across Ilya Trunin.

Russia, though, emerged for the second period with greater determination, equalising before the hour when Bazelyuk seized on Iliya Munin's back pass to score his fifth goal in three U21 outings.

Re-energised, Nikolai Pisarev's men edged ahead for the second time seven minutes later, the lively Aleksandr Kozlov breaking down the left and firing in a powerful diagonal shot, but yet again their advantage was short-lived.

Aleksandar Kolev earned Bulgaria a point – their eighth at the halfway point for Mihail Madanski's team in the section – by nodding in Edisson Jordanov's left-wing delivery. A frustrating encounter for the away side was compounded when Roman Emelyanov was dismissed in the closing stages for a second bookable offence.