Finland – Bulgaria
Finland were starting their preparations ahead of the World Cup qualification with a home fixture against a Bulgaria who had scheduled a five days and three matches tour of the Nordic countries, this their first. The home side had rounded off their previous qualification campaign, where they had finished bottom of their four team strong group, with a resounding 3-0 home win against Czechoslovakia some eleven months earlier, and had since then again beaten the Czechoslovaks (2-0), this time around in a winter friendly in the Canary Islands. The Finns had also lost to their arch rivals Sweden (1-0) in the same tournament in Maspalomas, as well as entered the annual Malta International Tournament in February, where they had lost 2-0 to the hosts and won 3-0 against Tunisia. A fifth friendly had been a 3-1 home defeat by Colombia in May.
Since the 1-1 draw against East Germany in April, briefly featured here in italia1990.com, Bulgaria had impressively won 2-1 in Holland in a May friendly, against a home side that would not long after go and win the European Championships in West Germany. This, however, was their first match in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers, and after Finland, they would travel to Iceland and then on to Norway before their return home.
Finland boss Jukka Vakkila had replaced Martti Kuusela as national team manager, having previously been in charge of the Olympic select as well as top flight club Haka Valkeakoski. He would keep faith with most of the players who had featured in that 3-0 win against Czechoslovakia in their last qualifying match, though there were a couple of notable absentees, perhaps first and foremost in experienced midfielder Jukka Ikäläinen, who had been captaining the side during the previous qualification. The Finns also had young midfielder Petri Tiainen with Dutch giant Ajax, and a goalscorer in that win against Czechoslovakia, he too was missing from this their first 1988 late summer friendly. Tiainen was sadly struggling with injuries, and this would later cut short his time in Holland. Wattenscheid’s Pasi Rautiainen was also missing, no longer part of the national team. Nowhere to be seen were also experienced, foreign-based midfielders Esa Pekonen and Kari Ukkonen.
Bulgaria boss Boris Angelov had seemingly brought the strongest squad of players available to him, with a couple of exceptions in experienced heads Nasko Sirakov and Plamen Getov.
This was the first ever friendly between the two countries, who had twice been in the same World Cup qualification group: Ahead of the 1962 tournament in Chile and ahead of the 1982 event in Spain. Bulgaria had won all four encounters.
Referee was a 42 year old Norwegian by the name of Kjell Nordby, and this was his first ever international assignment. As it would turn out, it was also his last.
There were plenty of umbrellas on display, so this early August evening on the Finnish west coast will have been a wet day. The Finnish currency at the time was Marks, and italia1990.com have from dependable sources that a hot dog with mustard cost 5 FIM, the equivalent of 84 (Euro) Cents or 72 Pence from February 2017 currency. We don’t know whether West Germany team chef Franz Beckenbauer tried the local cuisine or not, but he was present as he was scouting the home side ahead of their coming encounter in Helsinki. Finland and West Germany would kick Group 4 into action on the last day of August.
|1 Kari Laukkanen||24||Stuttgarter Kickers|
|2 Jyrki Hännikäinen||23||TPS Turku|
|3 Aki Lahtinen (c)||16′||29||OTP Oulu|
|4 Jari Europaeus||25||Östers|
|5 Erkka Petäjä||24||Östers|
|6 Jarmo Alatensiö||sub h-t||24||Brage|
|7 Markus Törnvall||23||Kuusysi|
|8 Erik Holmgren||sub 90′||23||HJK Helsinki|
|9 Marko Myyry||20||Meppen|
|10 Mika-Matti Paatelainen||sub 69′||21||Dundee United|
|11 Ari Hjelm||26||Stuttgarter Kickers|
|12 Markku Palmroos||27||HJK Helsinki|
|12 Jari Poutiainen ¹||21||KuPS|
|13 Markku Kanerva||24||HJK Helsinki|
|14 Mika Lipponen||on 90′||24||Twente|
|15 Seppo Nikkilä||26||Ilves Tampere|
|16 Ismo Lius||on h-t||22||Kuusysi|
|17 Jari Rantanen||on 69′||26||Leicester|
¹ The number 12 is mentioned twice by the PA announcer, the second of these 21 year old ‘keeper Jari Poutiainen from Kuopion Palloseura. Palmroos is also a goalkeeper.
|1 Iliya Valov||26||CFKA Sredets|
|2 Pavel Dochev||sub 67′||22||Lokomotiv Sofia|
|3 Zapryan Rakov||26′||26||Trakia Plovdiv|
|4 Dimitar Vasev||22||Lokomotiv Sofia|
|5 Nikolay Iliev (c)||24||Vitosha|
|6 Trifon Ivanov||23||CFKA Sredets|
|7 Hristo Stoichkov||sub h-t||22||CFKA Sredets|
|8 Ayan Sadakov||26||Lokomotiv Plovdiv|
|9 Lyubo Penev||sub 67′||21||CFKA Sredets|
|10 Georgi Yordanov||25||Vitosha|
|11 Bozhidar Iskrenov||sub h-t||26||Vitosha|
|12 Borislav Mikhaylov||25||Vitosha|
|13 Iliyan Kiryakov||on 67′||21||Etar|
|14 Ivaylo Kirov||on 67′||22||CFKA Sredets|
|15 Petar Aleksandrov||on h-t||25||Slavia Sofia|
|16 Atanas Pashev||on h-t||24||Trakia Plovdiv|
Bulgaria came in a 4-3-3, where Ivanov was the holding midfielder, and with Sadakov (right) and Yordanov doing the running just ahead of him in midfield. Penev was the main striker, with Stoichkov starting out on the left hand side, and with Iskrenov down the right. Invariably, the two wide strikers would swap places, though they would stick to the starting pattern for the opening 20 minutes. As usual, it was captain Iliev who was operating as the deeper of the two centre-halfs, whilst it was Rakov this time appearing as his compatriot in the heart of the Bulgarian defence, with Dochev as the right back. Their roles had been reversed since the 1-1 friendly with East Germany on home soil.
The home side were in their traditional 4-4-2, with Europaeus performing libero duties, or at least operating slightly behind and to the right of captain Lahtinen. The two full-backs were usually camped inside their own half, but would on a couple of occasions cross the halfway line. Holmgren was the holding midfielder of the two in the centre, with Törnvall slightly more expressive. Alatensiö, a right-footed player, was to the left of midfield in the first half, with the diminutive Myyry operating in a somewhat more forward role down the opposite flank. Of the two strikers it was the talented ‘Zico’, Ari Hjelm, who was the deeper. He would drop slightly back to be the creative force in attack, whilst the more physical Paatelainen would spearhead the Finnish attack, often in direct combat with Rakov.
During the half-time break, there’s a total of three substitutions: one for Finland, two for Bulgaria. For the home side, striker Ismo Lius comes on to replace midfielder Alatensiö, thus seeing Hjelm make the switch from a striker’s position into the left side of midfield, with Lius partnering Paatelainen up front. For the visitors, the two substitutes are straight swaps for the players they had replaced, with Atanas Pashev coming on to play to the right in their three man strong forward line, and with Petar Aleksandrov to Penev’s left. Formation wise both teams remained the same.
After the double substitution made by Bulgaria midway through the second half, as well as the second Finnish substitution:
Right-back Iliyan Kiryakov comes on to replace Dochev. Straight swap. Midfielder Ivaylo Kirov is on for centre-forward Penev, and this sees Bulgaria alter their formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, where their midfield takes a somewhat diamondish shape, with Ivanov still as the holding man, and with Kirov coming into Yordanov’s previous role as the central left midfielder. Sadakov heads for the top of the diamond in a support role for the front two, who are both still appearing relatively wide, with Pashev on the right and Aleksandrov to the left even after Penev has been taken off. This sees Yordanov slot into Sadakov’s central right position for the remainder of the match.
The hosts continue in their 4-4-2, and it is both substitutes who now spearhead their attack, with Hjelm still in a playmaking role to the left of midfield. They will make one final, late substitution when midfielder Mika Lipponen replaces Holmberg, but he won’t even get a full minute right at the death.
So, what was there to expect from this encounter? With the pitch a tad wet, one could perhaps not look forward to a game of free-flowing football; more something akin to a physical battle. And it was common knowledge that Finland had a team well equipped to stand up to most opponents in physical confrontation. Perhaps a bit of bite and aggression was missing in this Bulgarian team, though? It could have been fair to expect two contrasting styles.
The home side were looking at the penultimate test ahead of their first World Cup qualifier, and so manager Jukka Vakkila would have fielded a side not far off from what he would be facing mighty West Germany with. Bulgaria, on the other hand, were two and a half months away from kicking off their qualification, and so there was still some room for manager Boris Angelov to experiment. He took to the pitch with a new central midfield compared to the one that had featured in the 2-1 win in Holland ten weeks earlier, and there were also a couple of other changes, but they were once more in 4-3-3. And they would kick the match off through strikers Iskrenov and Penev.
There is not a whole lot happening inside the opening ten minutes apart from some feisty challenges. Bulgaria give as good as they get, not looking particularly keen at the prospect of relinquishing the initiative, and often it is the skilfull ‘Zico’ Hjelm who is on the receiving end, with the West Germany based forward twice in need of treatment early on.
As expected, the home side are not overly keen on trying to work their way forward through midfield elaboration. Often centre-back Lahtinen is seen punting the ball route one towards broad-shouldered striker Paatelainen, who is usually challenged by Rakov. The pair are engaged in a fine tussle, one they both appear to relish. Finland won’t create any openings from this particular piece of tactics, though, as the relatively robust Bulgarian defence is able to cope. And should Paatelainen win any headers, he does not have a forward partner speedy enough to deal with knock-downs, as operating behind enemy lines is hardly ‘Zico’ Hjelm’s favourite business. However, along the right hand touchline the home side have the diminutive Myyry, a player well capable of running in behind a defence. He is, though, not operating far enough forward to be able to take advantage of any cushioned headers from Paatelainen, and so the Finnish attack play comes to a halt before it has even taken much of a shape.
Bulgaria operate in a whole different way compared to their hosts. They wish to keep the ball along the deck, and try to reach either of the two wide forwards, Stoichkov on the left, Iskrenov on the right, with little angled passes from midfield, and often the task belongs to playmaker Yordanov to try and reach them. If they wish to find their central striker, it is often with Penev faced towards his midfield, trying to shield the ball from the two Finnish central defenders. After realizing that they are in for a battle, Bulgaria are gradually waking up from their initial slumber, and they begin to appear more confident in the way they stroke the ball about. Finland captain Lahtinen tries to bring to an end any desire the Bulgarians may have to perform sweeping attacks by fouling Iskrenov from behind midway inside his own half, the referee awarding him with a yellow card for his efforts. From the resulting free-kick, Stoichkov attempts a bit of opportunism from a full 30 yards as he has a low strike comfortably dealt with by Laukkanen despite the ball skidding off the wet surface along the way. At last an effort on goal. And only three minutes later it is a repeat performance from Laukkanen, though this time he has to beat Yordanov’s free-kick away for a right wing Bulgarian corner kick.
During this spell of growing dominance from the visitors, Angelov has instructed Iskrenov and Stoichkov to invariably switch sides, with the latter moving from left to right and then back to his original position. It is often by involving their wide strikers that Bulgaria are looking to make progress, though it has to be said that both Finnish full-backs, Hännikäinen on the right and Petäjä on the left, are coping well with the threat of skilfull opponents, though it is from the left-sided position where Stoichkov seems to have more of an appetite for the game. He had been slumbering in the opening 20 minutes, but is increasingly being found by his midfielders, predominantly Yordanov, in the wide left role, where he can control the ball quicker and thus appear more direct in his threats than when operating to the right. Apart from twice testing Laukkanen from free-kicks and once through a half volley from Ivanov from the edge of the box, Bulgaria do not threaten the home goal to a great extent. When central defender Rakov decides to leave Hjelm in a heap on the floor for the third time, the Norwegian referee finally dishes out a second yellow of the match. After this, the game falls back into its previous pattern of Finnish long balls being fended off by the visiting defence, with Bulgaria again exaggerating their passing play, usually moving astray.
The visitors had been unable to bring centre-forward Penev into the game much, as he was usually stood with his back towards goal, trying to keep the Finnish central-defenders at a distance. However, eight minutes from half time he used his strength to shield the ball from Lahtinen and spotted Yordanov’s run through the centre. Penev timed the pass to perfection, and the Bulgarian number 10 tried to take the ball wide of the outrushing Laukkanen. However, in doing so, he lost his balance, and as he got too far wide he couldn’t get a shot away, also being faced with full-back Hännikäinen. The defender managed to prevent Yordanov in aiming at goal, but the midfielder was able to play the ball back into the path of Stoichkov, whose shot eventually went wide of the ‘keeper’s upright. It was the closest the game had come to yielding a goal so far.
For the home side, set-pieces was a means to unsettling the visiting defence. From a right wing long-throw by central defender Lahtinen, they would carve out their best opening of the half three minutes from half time as libero Europaeus received the ball in the penalty area, to the right of Valov’s goal. He managed to squeeze a low, left-footed effort at goal, but it went just wide of the left hand post. The opportunity had come as the Finns had won a couple of aerial challenges inside the penalty area, their physical presence simply too much to cope with for the Bulgarians. The home side had an impressively robust central line, and what the two midfielders Holmgren and Törnvall may have been lacking in playmaking abilities, they certainly made up for in battle.
The Finnish fans were crying out for their forward hero to give them a goal as the half was about to conclude: “Maaleja Zico! Zico, Zico, Zico!” (“Goal Zico”, something like ‘give us a goal, Zico!’). However, a bleak first half came to a halt at 0-0.
Whereas the West German team chef in attendance had spent part of the half-time break writing autographs for local youths, both managers had contemplated changes. The home side reappeared having made a change to their forward line, with Ismo Lius coming on in place for left-sided midfielder Alatensiö, who had only been sparingly involved during the opening 45 minutes. This saw ‘Zico’ Hjelm pull back from his forward role and into a wide left midfield position. Hjelm had taken a bit of a battering in the first half, and would be hoping that the final 45 would prove less fierce. Instead of challenging with the big central defenders, he would be directly up against the somewhat smaller Dochev, a player, however, who was not unfamiliar with a central defensive role too, but still of a gentler frame than Iliev and Rakov.
Bulgaria boss Angelov had made two half-time substitutions, with wide forwards Stoichkov and Iskrenov off for Pashev and Aleksandrov. Stoichkov had shown glimpses of his quality, whilst Iskrenov had been more or less redundant. So the reason to withdraw him during the break appeared well founded. 24 year old Trakia Plovdiv winger Pashev was on for his 16th cap, his first since Bulgaria’s 2-0 defeat against host nation Mexico in the round of 16 during the 1986 World Cup. Slavia Sofia forward Aleksandrov was a more used player recently, having made seven appearances in Bulgaria’s previous qualification campaign. Pashev took to the right wing, Aleksandrov was trust into the wide left forward position that Stoichkov had abandoned at the sound of the half-time whistle.
Home players Hjelm and Lius saw to that the second half got under way.
As it were, neither team’s changes in personnel seemed to make much of a difference. The rain might have let up as the first half had progressed, but the match was about as drab as a lacklustre theater play. There was little spark from either team, though Finnish left-back Petäjä on a couple of occasions tried to lift the gloom by making energetic inroads into enemy territory down the left hand side. However, his crossing left a lot to be desired. And substitute Lius was unable to contribute much in ways of creativity in the home side’s forward line, being much the same type of player as his partner Paatelainen, both rather stocky. They were, however, making more use of their left hand side in the opening exchanges of the second half, and not only through the forward bursts of Petäjä, but also through ‘Zico’ Hjelm, whose composure on the ball helped the home side maintain possession inside the Bulgarian half for spells. There had also been a moment of extacy among the home supporters when Europaeus’ long ball up from the back had been flicked on by Paatelainen into the path of Lius, though the striker had been tackled by Vasev near the edge of the penalty area, with Valov on his way outside the box to try and clear. Vasev’s attempted clearance almost reached Myyry, but the ‘keeper was eventually able to get to the ball ahead of the Finnish wide midfielder and leave the ball for Rakov to regain possession.
At the other end of the pitch, Aleksandrov was more involved in his wide left forward role than fellow substitute Pashev was down the right. Aleksandrov would link up with Penev, and twice they would have efforts from distance blocked by industrious right back Hännikäinen. Penev was again often seen with his back against the Finnish goal, making his threat mainly just a potential one. In midfield, it was once again Yordanov who was left to deal with any creative passing, whilst Sadakov was more static in his supposed role as a midfield errand boy. At the back of the midfield triumvirate, Ivanov was also best pleased to perform his shielding act in front of his stoppers, although the threat from the opposing central midfield was hardly great. Distance between Bulgarian midfielders and their attack seemed too great, and the home side had few difficulties defending, even if the visitors were generally enjoying more possession than the home side still electing to hit it long for their strikers.
The home side at times give nutrition to the stereotype about the way that Nordic teams, perhaps with the exception of Denmark, are supposedly going about their football: Through means of directness and aggression, and with physically robust players who probably lack the skill levels that are often found further south on the continent. They are not an easy opponent, especially as they will often be too much of a challenge for some of Bulgaria’s smaller players, but then again they lack the ability to pose a great threat against Valov’s goal. One is left with the feeling that it will take a bit of luck for Finland to break down the visitors’ defence, although there is little to suggest that a Bulgarian goal is imminent down the other end too. The game’s a typical stalemate, and has the proverbial 0-0 written all over it. This is when Angelov decides to throw a further two substitutes into the fray, and he alters his formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2. There is a like for like change in the right-back position with Kiryakov on for Dochev, and in addition there’s midfielder Kirov on for striker Penev. This leaves the visitors with a diamond midfield formation, where the more or less invisible Sadakov enters the support role as the most advanced of the now four midfielders.
Less than two minutes after this latest double substitution comes Bulgaria’s best opportunity of the match so far, when Kiryakov, definitely a more attacking full-back than Dochev whom he had replaced, gets into a crossing position, and from his finely tuned centre Yordanov, having made a fine run into the area, gets his head to the ball, forcing Laukkanen to fist his effort over for a right wing corner. Finland are unable to clear the corner properly, and as the ball’s worked back into their penalty area, Europaeus attempts a wild clearance just as Pashev is about to get a shot away. However, instead of going away for another corner-kick, the ball sails perfectly over the ‘keeper’s head and into the goal just underneath the crossbar for a 1-0 lead to the visitors. Pashev had been credited with the strike, but video evidence shows that it was the Finnish libero who booted the ball into the back of his own net.
Finland respond by taking the disappointing Paatelainen off for Rantanen, another player based in the UK. The substitute is a taller player, and yet another man equipped for challenging the Bulgarian defenders in the air. It is now Rantanen and Lius leading the line of attack for the home side, and only a few seconds after the second Finnish kick-off of the second half, Lius has a shot on the turn from the edge of the area, making Valov work. The goalkeeper saves the effort without too much trouble. This will, however, prove to be the start of a spell where the home side manage to peg the visitors back, with Angelov’s 4-4-2 seemingly working with less efficiency than their 4-3-3 had done up until the halfway point of the second half, the goal a major exception. And it won’t last long before they are rewarded with an equalizer. Again it is another evidence that simplicity often is the way forward: A long throw from Lahtinen on the right hand side is flicked on by recent arrival Rantanen, and no one has bothered to pick up Myyry arriving to guide the ball home with his head. The smallest player on the pitch had just notched Finland level. The stadium record crowd were elated. All of a sudden the game had seen two goals, when even a single goal had appeared to be unlikely only five minutes earlier.
Fuelled by energy from their equalizer, Finland continue to be on top, and Bulgaria seem more static in their new formation, with midfield substitute Kirov hardly bringing needed aggression into the team. He appears to be in holiday mode in his left-sided central midfield role, and the stronger desire among the home players sees them rewarded with continued dominance. Just over ten minutes from time, a right wing Törnvall corner will eventually lead to a shooting opportunity from Hjelm, whose left-foot effort from the edge of the box catches just too much air and drifts half a yard over. ‘Zico’ has the ability, and has come more to his right during the second half, appearing in a position out wide where he is able to avoid direct combat like he had been exposed to in a frustrating first period.
Finland continue to be direct, and possibly even more so, after Rantanen’s arrival. Lahtinen will often hit balls from the back aimed at the Leicester striker, and Rantanen’s presence certainly provides Rakov and Iliev with another challenge. The visitors have switched off completely after their goal, and have produced precious little in ways of attacking play. The switch from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 had backfired, and Finland continue to be on top for the remainder of the game. Four minutes from time it is tireless midfielder Holmgren who is presented with a shooting opportunity when Valov can only punch Törnvall’s left wing corner out to the edge of the area. However, like Hjelm earlier in the half he could only direct his shot over Valov’s crossbar. Myyry also springs to life towards the tail end of the match, and feeds off some knock-ons by Rantanen, but his crosses twice only find their way into Valov’s arms.
The home side make an injury time substitution when Holmgren is replaced by Mika Lipponen. There is no time, however, for the fair-haired Holland based midfielder to make an impression, as the referee blows his whistle for the final time less than a minute after Lipponen’s arrival.
Finland and Bulgaria play out a dour draw on a pitch which has consumed a lot of rain in the hours leading up to kick-off. There is not a lot of action in front of either goal during the opening 45 minutes, and also little to suggest a different pathway after the break. However, as the visitors change personnel and switch formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 midway through the second half, they immediately take the lead through a bit of a fluke, as Finnish libero Europaeus guides the ball into the back of his own net. Rather than provide a spark for the visitors, the goal sees the home side come to life, and they will soon equalize following a long throw and a flick, summing up their desire to go route one for much of the game. A draw is a fair result based on match development, and the home side can enter the World Cup qualification with at least a hope of getting something from their tough opener against the West Germans.
1 Laukkanen 6.7
a couple of poor clearances, but otherwise in control of his area, and can do little to prevent the own goal
2 Hännikäinen 6.7
finds Stoichkov a match in the latter part of the opening half, and is less contributive going forward than Petäjä opposite
3 Lahtinen 7.0
solid performance from the skipper, who dished out a few beatings. Often knocks long balls from the back, and has an important set-piece weapon in his long throws
4 Europaeus 6.9
stylish performer, but a moment of madness when attempting to boot the ball clear only to score an own goal. Strong in the challenge
5 Petäjä 7.1
good game in which he kept both of Bulgaria’s right flanks quiet, and also showed some energy when moving forward on a couple of second half occasions
6 Alatensiö 6.6
doesn’t seem best pleased in a left-sided midfield role; very right-footed. Isn’t involved in play a great deal, but is seen as set-piece taker from both corner-kicks and free-kicks
(16 Lius 6.7
more mobile than Paatelainen, and is thus more difficult to pick up for the visiting defenders, but not a big goal threat)
7 Törnvall 6.8
tall, imposing player who is tough in combat, and also tries to distribute, though usually keeps things simple and does ok. Corner taker in the second half
8 Holmgren 6.8
does the midfield dirty work. Not highly visible, but quite effective. Has a second half shot over from the edge of the box
(14 Lipponen –
gets less than a minute right at the end)
9 Myyry 6.9
industrious second half performance which he capped with a surprise headed goal. Gets to the byline to deliever crosses on two occasions, and generally keeps Vasev occupied
10 Paatelainen 6.3
is unable to cause the Bulgarian defence too much worry, struggling to cope in battle with the central defenders, though he makes his presence felt on Rakov early on
(17 Rantanen –
fine cameo, where he flicks on Lahtinen’s long throw for Myyry to head home. Brings presence to the Finnish forward line)
11 Hjelm 6.9
better when not having to face up to the Bulgarian central defenders in the second half, and has composure in his play. Ought to have kept a second half effort down and tested the ‘keeper
1 Valov 6.8
did well to claim crosses. Let down by his defence for the goal as the marking was non-existing on Myyry. Raced out well on one occasion in the second half
2 Dochev 6.6
a non-feature going forward, but is usually in control of his right hand side defensively. Low risk game
(13 Kiryakov –
a much contrasting full-back to Dochev, and played a part in the attack which lead to the goal. Also more lenient in attending to Hjelm than his predecessor had been)
3 Rakov 6.8
fine battling display, and wisely left distribution for other players to deal with
4 Vasev 6.7
in control first half, but needed to contain Myyry better after the break. Let the winger get crosses in from his side
5 Iliev 6.9
a few vital interceptions, and also composed when in possession. Not exposed for his lack of pace as he took out usual depth as libero, and fairly strong in the air, where he had a few tussles with various Finnish strikers
6 Ivanov 6.7
much the anchor, could have pushed further ahead at times, and made Bulgaria look a bit back-heavy in the final 20 odd minutes
7 Stoichkov 6.9
has a decent final 25 minutes of the opening half, and makes Laukkanen work with a couple of trademark left-foot strikes. Often an option for team mates out on his left hand side
(16 Aleksandrov 6.6
wanted to be involved more than Pashev opposite, and challenged Hännikäinen in keeping width, though the full-back got in a couple of blocks from Aleksandrov’s shots)
8 Sadakov 6.5
a bit static in the first half, and pushed forward to the head of the midfield diamond for the final 25 minutes, not a role with which he seemed comfortable
9 Penev 6.7
no penetration, though holds the ball up and brings others into play. Threads a fine ball through for Yordanov towards the end of the first half
(14 Kirov –
didn’t make a lot of his substitute appearance, and could have been a contributing factor in Bulgaria conceding the initiative to the hosts after scoring)
10 Yordanov 7.0
one of the better players on a difficult pitch, where he mastered the ball well, kept distributing like one knows he is capable of, and forced the save from Laukkanen which brought a corner and subsequently the goal
11 Iskrenov 6.2
doesn’t show a lot of appetite for the game, and is usually found hiding on his right wing
(15 Pashev 5.9
if Iskrenov had been poor, Pashev didn’t exactly raise Bulgarian spirits down their right flank. Invisible for most of the second half)