Football: Defender Moti turns goalkeeper for Ludogorets, saves twice in penalty shoot-out

SOFIA (REUTERS) - Defender Cosmin Moti was forced into goal for a penalty shoot-out and made two saves to send Bulgarian club Ludogorets into the Champions League group stage for the first time at the expense of Steaua Bucharest.

The victory has now created a headache for club management who may need to play games outside of the country due to a lack of a suitable stadium.

Romanians Steaua led 1-0 from the first-leg and were moments away from securing their place in the lucrative next phase before Brazilian Wanderson struck in the 90th minute for Ludogorets forcing the game into extra time.

In the final minute of extra time, Ludogorets keeper Vladislav Stoyanov was sent off after bringing down Steaua's Fernando Varela and with all three subs having been used Moti was forced into goal.

Romanian Moti, who has spent most of his career with Steaua's bitter rivals Dinamo Bucharest, actually took the first kick for his team, confidently converting.

Then, wearing the reserve keeper's jersey he pulled off two saves as the Bulgarian side ran out 6-5 winners. "It's the first time I played as a goalkeeper," a delighted Moti told reporters. "It was a tough game but we're a good team and we played very well. We should have won before the penalties."

Ludogorets owner Kiril Domuschiev said he'll propose a new stand, which will be build at their 8,000-capacity Ludogorets Arena, to be named after Moti. "He's a great player he's got the right personality and character," Domuschiev said. "If only we had more players like him..."

Ludogorets, who have won three successive league titles, are based in Razgrad - a town with a population of less than 35,000.

The match against Steaua, however, was played at the Vasil Levski national stadium in the capital Sofia because it is the only suitable arena in the Balkan country.

Domuschiev said Ludogorets could be forced to seek a stadium abroad to host their matches in the group stage because the Vasil Levski stadium does not meet the Uefa requirements. The criteria are more restrictive in the group phase. "I hope they'll allow us to improve the condition of the stadium and play here," he said. "Otherwise, we'll have to play in Albania or Macedonia..."

The Eagles became only the second Bulgarian club to reach the group stages after Levski Sofia in 2006.

Last season, Ludogorets have played 63 matches in a marathon campaign that began in mid-July 2013 and included a 16-game Europa League run in which the Razgrad-based side reached the last 16.

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