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Berbatov double buoys Bulgaria

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

By Stoyan Georgiev at the Vassil Levski stadium

[1] Hristo Stoitchkov enjoyed a winning home debut as Bulgaria coach as three goals in 15 minutes either side of half-time helped his side to victory in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 8 - despite an early scare.

Seven points

[2] The win moved Bulgaria on to seven points from three games, while Malta remain rooted to the bottom having collected a single point from their first three games, conceding eleven goals in the process.

Attacking trident

[3] Stoitchkov selected an attacking starting lineup, with Martin Petrov, Valeri Bozhinov and Dimitar Berbatov forming a three-pronged attack. Maltese midfield player Stefan Giglio and goalkeeper Justin Haber returned to the country where they previously played their club football for PFC CSKA Sofia and PFC Dobrudzha Dobrich respectively.

Early setback

[4] The home side immediately made their positive intentions clear, with Berbatov having a goal ruled out in the second minute and Hristo Yanev hitting the crossbar with a long-range shot. Against the run of play, however, the visitors took the lead in the 13th minute, Michael Mifsud meeting Giglio's right-wing cross with a half-volley that gave goalkeeper Dimitar Ivankov no chance.

Berbatov leveller

[5] Bulgaria responded almost immediately, with Martin Petrov's free-kick saved by Haber. Two minutes before half-time, the Maltese goalkeeper was beaten, however, Berbatov heading his team level.

Yanev free-kick

[6] The equaliser visibly brightened the home side, who took the lead two minutes into the second period. Blagoi Georgiev was brought down on the edge of the area and free-kick specialist Yanev curled the ball over the wall and beyond Haber for his second goal in three internationals.

Two for Berbatov

[7] Berbatov effectively settled the contest two minutes before the hour, rising highest to meet Yanev's cross and heading his second and Bulgaria's third past Haber. Despite the two-goal cushion, the home side continued to throw men forward with Manchev heading just too high, while at the other end Mifsud shot over.

Late fourth

[8] The hosts continued to look the more likely scorers, however, and both Berbatov and Stoiko Sakaliev were just unable to touch in Martin Petrov's cross with only the goalkeeper to beat. It was 4-1 four minutes from time, with Berbatov creating the chance for Chavdar Yankov to shoot low beyond Haber.

November date

[9] Malta end their international year with a home game against Hungary on 17 November, while Bulgaria wait until 26 March to welcome Sweden.

Bulgaria's Chavdar Yankov tried to escape Van Woods of Malta