Dermendzhiev hails courageous Ludogorets

Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendzhiev hailed his side's courageous performance following their 2-1 UEFA Champions League loss to Real Madrid.

A sixth-minute header from Marcelinho gave the hosts the lead in Wednesday's Group B encounter in Sofia, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to level with his second penalty of the match.

Despite that equaliser, Ludogorets held their own and even had chances to win the game against the tournament holders, who ultimately prevailed thanks to a 77th-minute effort from substitute Karim Benzema.

Ludogorets have now come away with nothing from two successive Champions League games in which they have performed admirably, a last-gasp Steven Gerrard penalty enough to give Liverpool a 2-1 victory at Anfield on matchday one.

Dermendzhiev was nevertheless thrilled with the latest showing from the Bulgarian outfit and remains hopeful that they can defy the odds and progress from their group.

"Of course I am disappointed. We were brave, courageous and played with no fear against the reigning European champions," Dermendzhiev said.

"We played as [an] equal to Real and I am delighted with our performance, we could have earned a draw.

"The group will be tough, all three teams [Liverpool, Basel and Ludogorets] may even fight for the second spot."