Stalemate leaves Georgia and Bulgaria well off the pace

Georgia 0 Bulgaria 0

Georgia 0 Bulgaria 0

Georgia and Bulgaria are still winless in World Cup qualifying after playing out a goalless draw which leaves both teams already struggling in Group Eight.

Already without the injured Kakha Kaladze and suspended duo Rati Aleksidze and Zurab Khizanishvili, Hector Cuper’s Georgia team suffered a further blow when star youngster Levan Kenia was forced to pull out shortly before kick-off.

Bulgaria were considered favourites for the tie, having held world champions Italy to a draw at the weekend, but it was the hosts who played the better of the two countries and deserved all three points rather than one which did neither nation any favours.

Georgia could have gone ahead as early as the sixth minute when the Bulgaria defence failed to deal with a long ball from the goalkeeper Giorgi Lomaia.

Giorgi Shashiashvili got a header to it, beating Bulgaria keeper Georgi Petkov, but it flew narrowly over the bar.

Bulgaria were on the back foot from the off and Petkov had be smart to save several attempts on his goal.

Levan Kobiashvili should have put Georgia ahead in the 17th minute but, finding himself unmarked in the area, fired narrowly wide.

Bulgaria star Dimitar Berbatov had a rare glimpse of goal just before half-time but was closed down by Lasha Salukvadze before he could let fly.

The Manchester United striker almost gave Bulgaria the lead in first-half injury time as the visitors began to get a foothold on the match, but he headed just wide.

Petkov was again tested after the break and had to react swiftly to tip over Beka Gotsiridze’s fierce header.

He did even better in the 78th minute as Zurab Menteshashvili bore down on goal and found himself one on one with the Levski Sofia keeper, who made a stunning save to clear the danger.

Georgia should have won it five minutes from time, but David Siradze’s header crashed off the bar.

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