2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • Ivelin Popov (10')
  • Alexsandr Hleb (90'+1')

Ivelin Popov goal helps Bulgaria defat Belarus

Ivelin Popov scored the only goal as Bulgaria clinched a 1-0 win against 10-man Belarus in their World Cup qualifier in Sofia.

Spartak Moscow forward Popov's early header at the Vasil Levski National Stadium proved decisive and secured Bulgaria's first victory under coach Petar Hubchev following heavy earlier defeats to Group A rivals France and Sweden.

Victory lifts fourth-placed Bulgaria four points clear of Belarus, who are still without a win after four group matches.

Popov gave Bulgaria a flying start when he headed home Spas Delev's cross from close range in the 10th minute.

Pavel Nekhajchik responded for Belarus with a shot from outside the penalty area that flew just wide, while Sergei Palitsevich and Yuri Kendysh went close for the visitors with other long-range efforts.

Simeon Slavchev, with a shot from outside the area, and Radoslav Kirilov, from close range, both threatened to increase Bulgaria's lead in the second half.

Former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb was sent off for Belarus in the closing stages.