Through a late equaliser and an outstanding performance from a defender-turned goalkeeper in a tense penalty shootout, Ludogorets Razgrad somehow found their way past Steaua Bucharest and into the Champions League group stages on Wednesday night.
So who are the Bulgarian team in pot four? Here are five things you may not know.
1. The 13-year-old club
They may carry ‘1945’ alongside their name, but the club due to compete in the Champions League was only founded over a decade ago, in the summer of 2001. The ‘original’ Ludogorets of 1945 went bankrupt in the late nineties.
2. Ludogorets is the club’s third name so far
Identity is so important but it seems like this club have struggled to get it right. Since their birth, Ludogorets have undergone almost a complete makeover, from the name to the crest and the club colours.
Initially called Ludogorie (‘crazy forest’), the club soon incorporated the name Razgrad 2000 before changing it to Ludogorets Razgrad 1945 just four years ago.
3. Two other clubs shared the name Ludogorets
The Champions League debutants are not alone in the town of Razgrad, which was a home to other teams with similarly bizarre names –Ludogorets 2003 and… Antibiotic-Ludogorets FC. Both are now non-existent.
4. Ludogorets lost dramatically in the 2012 Champions League qualifiers
If you think the team was lucky to nick the victory off Steaua Bucharest, think again. Ludogorets were on the verge of reaching the last stage of the Champions League qualifiers in 2012 when they conceded late on against Dinamo Zagreb.
The 2-2 draw would’ve seen them through, but with a man down and five minutes of extra time to go, the defence crumbled in the last attack of the match.
5. Hero Cosmin Moti celebrated by opening a Twitter account
The Romanian defender who stood in goal and parried two penalties in the shoot-out must’ve thought it was the right time to get some Twitter followers. ‘
It’s time to go to bed’, he tweeted around 3am local time, but was probably too excited to stay asleep since he took to the social network again two hours later to say, ‘Good morning. I can’t believe it yet’.