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Cosmin Moti took over in goal after the Bulgarians' first-choice keeper had been sent off, and his resulting heroics helped to see them past Steaua Bucharest

Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti saved two penalties as an emergency goalkeeper on Wednesday to send his side into the Champions League group stage for the first time ever.

With the Bulgarians tied at 1-1 on aggregate in the play-off round against Steaua Bucharest, regular shot-stopper Vladislav Stoyanov brought down the visitors' Fernando Varela in the 119th minute, prompting a red card from Spanish referee Alberto Undiano.

And with all three substitutions having been used up, the home side were unable to bring on reserve keeper Ivan Cvorovic.

But Moti, a Romania international, took over the goalkeeping duties for the dying seconds of extra-time and the resulting penalty shoot-out and produced a remarkable match-winning display between the posts.

He went on to net the opening penalty before making two dramatic saves from Paul Parvulescu and Cornel Rapa to secure a 6-5 victory on spot-kicks, sending the home crowd into raptures.

Ludogorets had earlier appeared to be heading out of the competiton as a result of their 1-0 first-leg defeat, only for substitute Wanderson to score a crucial 90th minute goal to send the match into extra-time.

Moti's heroics mean Ludogorets will line up in the Champions League group stage for the first time in their history, with six games against some of the biggest names in Europe a reward for their exploits so far.

The draw for the group phase takes place at 17:45CET on Thursday.

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