Bulgaria survived a major scare as a dramatic late winner from substitute Aleksandar Tonev saw them edge a seven-goal thriller against Luxembourg 4-3 in Sofia.
The hosts took a 16th-minute lead in the World Cup qualifying opener in Group A through Dimitar Rangelov’s strike before being stunned by a quickfire brace from Luxembourg’s Aurelien Joachim, who converted from close range in the 60th and 63rd minutes.
Bulgaria swiftly replied as Marcelinho’s header brought them level within another three minutes and the job seemed done when Ivelin Popov’s free-kick put them 3-2 up with 10 minutes to go.
But after Luxembourg equalised via substitute Florian Bohnert’s stoppage-time effort, it was only thanks to a strike in the dying seconds from Tonev that the Bulgarians could celebrate victory.
In the other matches in Group A, Sweeden and Netherlands drew 1-1 at Friends Arena in Sweden and Euro 2016 runners-up France drew 0-0 away to Belarus. So after Round 1 of the qualifiers, Bulgaria tops Group A.