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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Vassil Levski Stadion (ATT 42,000) 6th June 2009 - Kick off 18:30 Ref: C Bo Larsen

Bulgaria Bulgaria vs Republic of Ireland Rep Ireland

Bulgaria 1

ft

Ireland battle for Bulgaria draw

Dunne header cancelled out by Telkiyski effort

Last Updated: 06/06/09 9:10pm

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Dunne: Headed Ireland in front

Dunne: Headed Ireland in front

Republic of Ireland maintained their unbeaten record in 2010 World Cup qualifying Group 8 after a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria.

Richard Dunne headed Ireland into a 24th minute lead, but Dimitar Telkiyski capitalised on slack defending to equalise just five minutes later.

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni had called for a positive outcome from the game in Sofia and he will be satisfied with the result which was built on a solid showing from Dunne.

The Manchester City defender gave his country the lead when he was left unmarked to head home Stephen Hunt's free-kick from the left wing.

But Ireland were unable to hold on to the lead as Telkiyski drilled a low shot beyond Shay Given on 29 minutes after Kevin Kilbane and Sean St Ledger failed to deal with a long ball.

Dimitar Berbatov wasted a golden chance in the second half and Aiden McGeady flashed a late shot wide as Ireland moved to within a point of leaders Italy but, more importantly, stayed five points ahead of Bulgaria.

Ireland arrived at the Vasil Levski Stadium having yet to lose a competitive game under Trapattoni and knowing a positive result on the night would edge them ever closer to South Africa.

For 25 minutes, the 70-year-old Italian must have been thrilled with what he saw as his side not only held their own at a venue where they had never previously tasted victory, but took the game to their hosts.

Despite the inclusion of big names Berbatov, Martin Petrov and Valeri Bojinov, who all missed the 1-1 draw in Dublin through injury, it was the visitors who made the early running.

Caused panic

Hunt forced the game's first save with only six minutes gone when he met Damien Duff's cross with a downward header at the far post, and Bulgaria keeper Dimitar Ivankov was called upon again seconds later when Caleb Folan sent in a firm shot from the edge of the box.

Skipper Robbie Keane was unable to hit the target after spinning smartly to connect with Dunne's header down from an 11th-minute Duff corner and, as Folan caused panic in the heart of the Bulgaria defence, the signs were good for the Irish.

The Hull striker's physical presence made life intensely difficult for central defenders Igor Tomasic and Ilian Stoyanov, who at times resorted to less than legal methods in an attempt to stop him.

However, there was nothing they could do to prevent the visitors from taking the lead with 24 minutes gone after Hunt had been tripped by Stanislav Angelov wide on the left.

The winger dusted himself down before curling in a free-kick that Dunne met unopposed and gleefully headed into the net.

Martin Petrov might have levelled within a minute but lifted his shot from a tight angle over Given's crossbar, but the battle had been joined and Ireland were forced to weather a storm from then until the break.

The Bulgarians levelled within five minutes of Dunne's opener when Telkiyski capitalised on a misunderstanding between Kilbane and St Ledger to run on to Ilian Tomasic's long ball and beat the advancing Given comfortably.

And, with Angelov pulling the strings from central midfield and Berbatov prowling menacingly from deep, the alarm bells were ringing.

Dunne had to head a Bojinov shot away and then intercept Angelov's cross just before his Manchester City team-mate could pounce with Bulgaria now in full swing.

Given got his body firmly behind a long-range strike from Radostin Kishishev in injury-time and the whistle came as a welcome relief for Ireland and their fans.

It was no surprise when the Bulgarians resumed where they had left off and John O'Shea, playing at right-back to accommodate St Ledger in the middle, endured a challenging start to the second half as Martin Petrov got the bit between his teeth.

However, the Manchester United man twice within quick succession proved up to the task to dispossess the City man before he could do any real damage.

Pressure mounting

The pressure was mounting all the time and it took some heroic defending from Dunne in particular to keep the home side at bay.

But the Republic had a let-off with 57 minutes gone when Angelov picked out Berbatov in space at the far post with 57 minutes gone, only for the striker to miscontrol and allow Given to step in.

Ireland were marooned inside their own half but they were defending manfully in the face of a concerted assault.

However, Bulgaria were struggling to create clear-cut chances and were becoming increasingly desperate, and Stoyanov blasted just over from 25 yards with 20 minutes remaining.

The Irish wall did its job to keep out substitute Blagoy Georgiev's 77th-minute free-kick in a tense finish, with Bulgaria dominating possession but meeting stern resistance all the way to the whistle.

Indeed, substitute McGeady almost snatched victory at the death with a right-foot shot that whistled inches wide.

BulgariaTeam StatisticsRepublic of Ireland
1Goals1
11st Half Goals1
2Shots on Target4
7Shots off Target4
1Blocked Shots0
6Corners2
12Fouls17
6Offsides3
1Yellow Cards1
0Red Cards0
80.5Passing Success60.2
10Tackles15
100Tackles Success66.7
67.1Possession32.9
56.8Territorial Advantage43.2

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Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4

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