Unheralded Ludogorets completed a remarkable domestic double in Bulgaria on Wednesday when they beat CSKA Sofia 1-0 in an ill-tempered season-finale to clinch the premier league title at their first attempt.
Knowing only a win would do to add the league crown to the cup title they won earlier this month, a 19th minute strike from Ludogorets’ Miroslav Ivanov proved decisive in a match that featured 11 yellow cards and ended with both sides reduced to 10 men.
The experienced midfielder’s curling right footed drive from 25m gave CSKA’s Algerian goal keeper Rais Mbolhi no chance.
The visitors threatened an equalizer moments later when Plamen Krachunov headed on to the bar, but CSKA suffered a setback when they were reduced to 10 men after defender Angel Grunchov was sent off for stamping on Brazilian midfielder Marcelinho right on half time.
CSKA coach Stoycho Mladenov was also dismissed early in the second half following an angry exchange with referee Georgi Kabakov. Tempers continued to boil over and Ludogorets’s Bulgaria international Svetoslav Dyakov was also given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow card 13 minutes into the second half.
Searching for their 32nd league title, CSKA pressed forward desperately, but were unable to equalize with Anton Karachanakov and Cameroon’s Njongo Priso both hitting the woodwork.
The final result allowed -Ludogorets, who only two years ago were battling in the Bulgarian third division, to leapfrog CSKA Sofia on the league ladder and also secure a place in the qualifying rounds of next season’s Champions League.
“This title is the result of hard work throughout the season,” Ludogorets coach Ivaylo Petev told reporters after the final whistle.
In other matches, Levski Sofia thrashed relegated Svetkavitsa 7-0 to finish third and seal a place in next season’s Europa League.
Litex Lovech crushed hapless Lokomotiv Plovdiv 6-2, but they could only finish fifth and so will not play in Europe for the first time in 12 years.
Meanwhile, Dinamo Bucharest ended a miserable season on a high note by beating city rivals Rapid 1-0 to win the Romanian Cup on Wednesday and secure a place in the Europa League.
Defender Adrian Scarlatache headed in from 6m in the 58th minute to earn Dinamo their first trophy since 2007.
Rapid pressed forward desperately, but were unable to force the equalizer with their Portuguese midfielder Filipe Teixeira having a strong penalty shout waved away midway through the second half.
“We saved the season,” Dinamo captain Marius Niculae told reporters. “The atmosphere was incredible and I’m really happy with the win.”
Dinamo captured their 13th Romanian Cup title, but they finished a disappointing fifth in the league, nine points behind champions CFR Cluj.