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Botev - Arda

Botev - Arda

Botev took the lead, but eventually lost to Arda

Botev (Plovdiv) lost 1:2 against Arda in a match of the XXXIII round of the Bulgarian championship. The match was played at “Arena Arda” in Kardzhali, being part of the playoffs in the battle for 7th place. The away sector with Botev fans once again created a great atmosphere for the players so that Dusan Kerkez’s boys could feel like the hosts in Kardzhali.

The meeting was also the last match of the team before the grand final for the Bulgarian Cup on Wednesday, May 15, at the Vasil Levski National Stadium against Ludogorets. And for this reason, Dušan Kerkez left out of the group some of the key players such as Mohamed Brahimi, Dylan Mertens, Nikolay Minkov, and also the captain of the team, Ivelin Popov, who would have missed the next match if he received a new yellow card. However, they did not fail to support their teammates from the stands of Arena Arda.

Already in the 7′ Botev had his first chance. However, Martin Sekulic’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was easily saved by Anatoli Gospodinov.

The two were again in the center of attention in 12′. An impressive multi-pronged attack by the Canaries ended with Samuel Akere’s cross from the right. However, Sekulic’s shot again failed to overcome Gospodinov.

The scenario was repeated only 2′ later. This time a cross from the right wing by Kostas Balogiannis found Sekulic, but again the shot failed to find the net.

The first serious opportunity for Arda was in the 20′. After a static situation, Borislav Tsonev’s cross was headed by Plamen Krachunov, but the defender shot flew wide of the goal of Matvei Igonen.

In the 32′, Botev’s pressure finally paid off. Ume Emmanuel capitalized perfectly on a mistake by Arda’s left-back. Left alone against the goalkeeper, Botev’s winger managed to easily overcome Gospodinov and shoot at the goal, where, despite two players of the home team, the ball still found its way into the net for 1:0. The goal came at a time when Botev was also down a man after Akere got injured and was forced to be replaced by Christian Nwachukwu.

Literally seconds later, a blunder by the hosts and a wrong back pass allowed Nwachukwu to come out alone against the keeper. However, the wing of the “canaries” was unable to overcome the guard and the score stayed the same. In 53′, Nwachukwu was again in a shooting position, but again he was unable to complete his team’s attack with a goal.

Arda turned up the heat in search of an equalizer. In 62′, Ivan Tilev’s shot from the air flew inches from Igonen’s crossbar.

However, Arda’s efforts paid off in the 64th minute. A cross into the penalty area of Botev was met with a header by Botev’s academy player playing for Arda – Boris Tyutyukov, who scored for 1:1. This was also the first away goal conceded by the Kerkez team in nearly 2 months.

Strong minutes followed for Botev. In the final 20′, Sekulic got another great chance after a pass from Balogiannis, but he was unable to score and give the “yellow-black” team the lead.

In 78′, good individual actions by the Croatian allowed him to advance to the penalty area. Cleverly, Sekulic found Eto’o, who shot at Gospodinov from the edge of the goalkeeper’s box but a good save from the keeper left the score unchanged.

Only a minute later, the danger again moved in front of Arda’s goal. However, Nwachukwu’s shot pass was intercepted by a home defender right in front of a Botev player, who was otherwise left alone in front of the empty net.

In 85′, a powerful shot outside the penalty area by Borislav Tsonev caused a great save by Igonen.

However, from the ensuing corner, Botev’s goalkeeper was helpless and Arda scored for 2:1. The Canaries’ defense failed to clear the corner kick and Joonas Tamm sent the ball into his own net for the home side’s turnaround.

Thus, Botev failed to take advantage of CSKA 1948’s mistake in the battle for 7th place. In the standings, the “yellow and black” are 8th with 45 points, the same as CSKA 1948. Arda are just one point behind in the standings.

Botev’s next match is the Bulgarian Cup final against Ludogorets. The match is on Wednesday, May 15, at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia. Tickets for the meeting can be found here.

BOTEV’S STARTING LINE-UP: 32. Matvei Igonen – 4. Ehije Ukaki, 42. Ivaylo Videv (78′ – 79. Atanas Chernev), 5. Joonas Tamm, 38. Konstantinos Balogiannis – 15. James Eto’o, 28. Yannis Karabelyov (89′ – 14. Faustas Steponavičius), 20. Antonio Perera – 16. Samuel Akere (34′ – 40. Christian Nwachukwu), 31. Umeh Emmanuel, 9. Martin Sekulic (78′ – 18. Dimitar Papazov);

RESERVES: 22. Daniel Kaiser, 43. Miroslav Georgiev, 30. Lachezar Baltanov, 44. Biser Bonev, 41. Veliyan Vidolov

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