UCL Results, Highlights: Ludogorets defender saves two penalties for victory, more

Ludogorets

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Ludogorets may have been an unknown quantity to most, but they are firmly on the map now as everyone’s darlings in the Champions League group stage.

Central defender Cosmin Moti saved not one, but two penalties in the shootout to lift his club over Steau Bucharest. Moti also converted the opening penalty for Ludogorets as they won 6-5 in the shootout. To make matters worse, he was a former member of Dinamo Bucharest, which is Steau’s biggest rival in Romania.

Goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov was red carded for a challenge in the second half of extra time. His tackle was a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity as Fernando Varela was clean through. With all three subs used, Ludogorets had to go to a field player and Moti stepped up in a massive way for his club.

It took an incredible goal in it’s own right to help Ludogorets through to the group stages. After losing in Romania, the Bulgarian club scored in the game’s final moments to level the score on aggregate at one apiece. Substitute Wanderson hit a stunning volley from the top of the box that left Steau keeper Giedrius Arlauskis  in awe.

The unheralded club will look to find more magic when they enter the group stage for the first time in their history.

You won’t want to miss these highlights:

Other Champions League Results

1. Bilbao 14-minute goal spurt see them through to group stage– Athletic Bilbao had the advantage of away goal heading back to Spain. After falling a goal behind to Napoli, the club roared back to score three in a 14-minute span for a 3-1 win (4-2 aggregate).

Aritz Arduiz tallied in the 61st and then 69th to put his club in front. After taking Markel Susaeta‘s corner, Arduiz shot took a deflection and went into the back of the net. His second came when he chased down a ball over the top with Napoli’s defense not dealing with it and beat the on-rushing Napoli keeper Rafael Cabral to finish.

Ibal Gomez added the third for Bilbao in the 74th minuteafter latching on to Unai Lopez‘s through ball.

While Napoli took the lead in the 47th minute through Marek Hamsik after controlling an attempted clearance from Bilbao at the top of the box and firing his low shot into the back of the net, the visitors just crumbled soon after. Napoli’s capitulation follows a continued trend of Italian clubs struggling in Europe.

2. The Gunners eke out result– If you took out all the noise in the Emirates Stadium, the only one left would have been of jangling nerves. Besiktas made things incredibly difficult for Arsenal throughout the two legs. The Gunners were able to score on the stroke of halftime to win 1-0 and by the same score on aggregate.

For the final 15 minutes, the Gunners found themselves down a man after Mathieu Debuchy received his second yellow card of the match – referee Pedro Proence was giving yellows out like they were party favors.  Besiktas pushed for a winner, but the 10 men Gunners were able to remain resolute.

It was Alexis Sanchez who provided the heroics. He scored in first half stoppage time to give the Gunners the advantage with his first goal for the club. With Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil combining well in the final third, Wilshere got a touch as Sanchez latched onto the ball and fired on goal beating Tolga Zengin.

Although it wasn’t pretty over the two legs, Arsenal have now qualified for their 17th consecutive Champions League group stage.

3. More goals for Leverkusen– When Bayer Leverkusen met FC Copenhagen in the first leg, the teams split five goals with the German club, scoring three away from home. Back in Germany, there were four goals, but the Danish side had no answers in the 4-0 (7-2 aggregate) victory.

Leverkusen began the onslaught early with Son Heung-Min scoring from close-range in the 2nd minute after a pass from Stefan KiesslingHakan Calhanoglu doubled the home side’s advantage just six minutes later. His free-kick took a deflection off of Danny Amankwaa on the way through and found the back of the net.

Kiessling then scored in both halves to put Leverkusen well in front. First, he scored from the penalty spot in the 31st minute with Amankwaa being the mis-fortunate one again, conceding the foul in his own box. Kiessling added his second 20 minutes after the break after being played through by Gonzalo Castro.

4. Celtic bow out for second time– Given a reprieve after Legia Warsaw fielded a suspended player, Celtic crashed out once more. They lost to Maribor 1-0 (2-1 aggregate) in Scotland.

The Scottish champions will rue their missed opportunities over both legs as Tavares‘ 75th minute goal sees the Slovenian side through to the group stage. Amid a scramble in the box, Maribor’s record goalscorer’s shot took a dflection and beat keeper Craig Gordon.

Unless there is some unforeseen events, Celtic will not get a third crack at this year’s Champions League.

5. And the rest– Zenit continued their string of success at home against Belgian opposition with a 3-0 (4-0 aggregate) dismantling of Standard Liege. Hulk was at the double with goals in a four minute span, with 54th and 58th minute tallies. Jose Rondon put the home side in front with his 30th minute goal.

FC Porto proved too strong for Lille with a 2-0 (3-0 aggregate) victory in Portugal. Porto struck twice in the second half of the second leg to down the French club. Yacine Brahimi put the home side in the lead in the 49th minute while Jackson Martinez put the game to bed in the 69th.

Red Bull Salzburg had a slim advantage heading into the second leg, but they were thoroughly beaten by Malmo FF 3-0 (4-2 aggregate) in Sweden. Markus Rosenborg struck first in the opening minute and then added a second right as the game was drawing to a close in the 84th minute. Magnus Eriksson provided the other goal in the 19th minute.

APOEL brushed aside AaB Aalborg easily in Cyprus with a 4-0 (5-1) win. The Cypriot club did it with four different names on the scoresheet as Vinicius got things started in the 29th minute as well as goals from Tomas De Vincenti in the 44th, Stathis Aloneftis in the 64th and Cillian Sheridan, who capped things off in the 75th minute.

FC BATE won out heavily as well with a 3-0 (4-1 aggregate) over Slovan Bratislava. Mikail Gordeychuk struck first for the home side just before the halftime whistle in the 41st minute. Sergei Krivets tallied in the 84th minute and Vitali Rodionov added the third a minute later.