Ludogorets ended up losing the highly entertaining encounter in Slovakia 2-1, having conceded two late goals, which means Slovan are slightly closer to a place in the next stage.
The team from Razgrad have already established dominance on domestic stage, winning back to back league titles, Bulgarian Cup and Super Cup, so it’s now up to them to prove their worth in Europe as well.
Ludogorets were extremely unfortunate to fall at the first hurdle last season, seeing as how they were only eliminated by Dinamo Zagreb by conceding a goal in the eighth minute of added time.
Once again, they were handed a tough draw in the Champions League qualifiers, having been pitted against Slovan, but they still had an excellent opportunity to make a giant step towards the next stage.
Ludogorets rode their luck as the hosts missed a penalty, but then took the lead in the second half and looked to be cruising when opposition midfielder Erik Grendel was sent off.
Ivaylo Penev’s side, nevertheless, conceded two late goals despite the numerical advantage and are now no less than 2.10 (11/10) with Paddy Power to make it to the next stage.
After they also lost their opening league clash to newly promoted Lyubimets, boss Penev was sacked from the post, with assistant manager Georgi Dermendzhiev taking over the reigns.
With no fresh selection issues to worry about, the interim manager is unlikely to make major changes to the side.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): V. Stoyanov – Junior, Mantyla, Moti, Minev – Dyakov, Zlatinski – Abalo, Espinho, I. Stoyanov – Platini.
While winning three of last five league titles, Slovan have largely struggled in Europe of late, even if they did reach Europa League stages in 2011/2012.
However, the Slovakians could only win one point in six group games, while their European campaign last season ended early on, as they lost the clash with Videoton on away goals.
Their biggest strength ahead of the start of new season was the fact that the squad had undergone just minor changes in the summer, and the match against Ludogorets proved why that was so important in the opening exchanges.
Bar the opening 20 minutes, Slovan largely dominated the encounter, but things looked to be going in the wrong direction after the hosts missed a number of excellent chances to score as well as a penalty.
However, the team proved a great deal of character to come from a goal behind and produced quite a feat by scoring two goals with ten men on the pitch.
As a result, the Sky Blues are now 1.67 (2/3) with Paddy Power to qualify for the next stage, although they could be in for a tricky encounter in Bulgaria.
Important midfielder Erik Grendel is suspended, while another starter Igor Zofcak faces a fitness test after suffering an injury in the first leg.
Probable starting line-up (4-1-4-1): Putnocky – Bagayoko, Gorosito, Kolcak, Josimov – Kladrubsky – Meszaros, Peltier, Milinkovic, Zofcak – Halenar.
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