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Botev lost at home to Slavia after plenty of misses

Botev (Plovdiv) lost 0:1 at home to Slavia in the first playoff round of the efbet Liga. The only goal in the match was scored by Galin Ivanov in the 34th minute, and the “canaries” made serious mistakes, which ultimately deprived them of taking at least a point.

Already in the 8′ Botev had his first chance. A superb pass from James Eto’o put Ume Emmanuel alone in front of the goalkeeper, but the Nigerian shot wide from a difficult angle.

Again Ume was involved in the next more interesting situation in the match. In the 25′, the winger of the “yellow-black” was brought down in the penalty area of Slavia after a split by a defender, but the referee judged that the play was within the limits of the allowed and did not award a penalty.

Botev’s pressure continued, and in the 30′ Mohamed Brahimi tried his luck. His shot from the edge of the penalty area ricocheted off a Slavia defender to go inches wide of the side post of Svetoslav Vutsov.

In 34′, with their first better opportunity, the guests opened the score. A well executed and learned corner ended with Galin Ivanov hitting the ground from the penalty area. The ball ended up in the goal, and this was the first conceded goal for Botev after 6 consecutive dry nets.

Minutes later, Botev could have received a penalty again. The video replay system intervened to review a handball situation by a Slavia defender in his own penalty area, but the referees in front of the monitors judged that there was no obvious refereeing error by Georgi Davidov and upheld the original penalty decision.

In the final minutes of the first half, Slavia tried to double their lead, with Hidayet Hankic making important appearances to keep the score just 1:0 in favor of the guests from Sofia.

In the second half, Botev picked up the pace dramatically. Already in the 50′ came the most controversial moment of the match. A lead pass behind the Slavia defense created a good opportunity for the Canaries. The visitors’ goalkeeper Svetoslav Vutsov, knocked the Botev player to the grass without playing with the ball. Initially, the referee showed him a red card, but after the intervention of the VAR, the sanction was softened and it was decided that Vutsov’s punishment would only be a yellow card and a direct free kick for Botev.

In the following minutes, both Ivelin Popov, for whom this was match No. 150 in the Bulgarian championship, and Dylan Mertens tried their luck, but there was no equalizer.

The golden chance for Botev came in the 63′ when a perfect cross from Popov hit the head of Martin Sekulich, who appeared from the bench. Alone against the empty goal from a few meters, however, the striker hit the side post.

The strong minutes for Botev continued, but again there was no goal. Successively, Popov, Tamm and Nwachukwu tested Vutsov, but to no avail.

In the final 10′ of the match, the “canaries” had more good opportunities, as in 85′ a pass from Baloyianis found Sekulic in the penalty area, but the attacker’s attempt to continue to an uncovered teammate did not go through.

In added time, Nuachukwu also tested Vutsov’s reflexes, but his shot on the ground was parried with his foot by the Slavia goalkeeper to keep the final 1-0 in favor of the visitors.

This was Botev’s first loss in more than a month, as the defeat ended a streak of 6 consecutive matches in which the team was undefeated and did not concede a goal. In the standings, the “yellow and black” are still in 7th place, but only one point more than CSKA 1948, and one game more than the people of Sofia.

Botev’s next match is on Wednesday, May 1, against CSKA at the “Hristo Botev” stadium in a semifinal rematch for the Bulgarian Cup. For the championship, the next opponent is CSKA 1948, with the capital team also visiting Plovdiv on May 6.

STARTING SQUAD Hidayet Hankic – 17. Nikolay Minkov, 5. Jonas Tamm, 19. Antoine Conte (87′ – 14. Faustas Steponavichus), 38. Konstantinos Baloyannis – 15. James Eto’o (59′ – 28. Yannis Karabelov), 6. Dylan Mertens (59′ – 9. Martin Sekulic), 20. Antonio Perera – 7. Mohamed Brahimi (69′ – 4. Ehije Ukaki), 31. Ume Emmanuel (69′ – 40. Christian Nwachukwu), 10. Ivelin Popov

РЕЗЕРВИ: 32. Matvey Igonen, 42. Ivaylo Videv, 30. Lachezar Baltanov, 18. Dimitar Papazov

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