It didn’t look good for Bulgarian side Ludogorets going into the final moments of its match against Steaua Bucharest, champions of the Romanian League. A spot in the group stage of the Champions League was at stake, but Ludogorets had needed a goal in the 90th minute just to force extra time, and then its goalkeeper got sent off for a hard foul in the 119th minute, just before an all-or-nothing penalty shootout.
Enter Cosmin Moti. Ludogorets had already used its allotment of three substitutions, so it had to send a player who was already on the field into net. Moti, a center-half, was chosen to for that daunting task, but first he also had to take his team’s own initial penalty shot. Goal!
But that was just the start of Moti’s heroics. After Seaua successfully converted its first penalty kick, Moti’s teammate Wanderson — who had scored the game-extending goal — missed his penalty shot. Suddenly, Moti was faced with answering right back. Save! The teams then traded eight successful conversions until Ludogorets went ahead, 6-5. Steaua’s Cornel Rapa stepped up to face Moti, and sent a low shot to the emergency goalie’s right. Moti guessed right (in every respect) and smothered the ball. Save!
And just like that, Ludogorets had its first trip to soccer’s biggest club tournament, and Moti etched his name into the sport’s lore. Wearing a jersey emblazoned with “Cvorovic,” the backup goalkeeper’s name, Moti charged over to the stands to celebrate with his side’s delirious fans.
” the save that put Ludogorets into the group stages and Cosmin Moti into hero territory: https://t.co/eLyw8FxIKQ” HE’S A DEFENDER – GK RED
— Dylan Wilbur (@Dwilbur003) August 27, 2014
Ludogorets owner says he will name the new stadium built in Razgrad ‘Cosmin Moti’. FABULOUS STUFF!
— Emanuel Roşu (@Emishor) August 27, 2014
Adding a note of irony is that Moti is Romanian himself, and he played for many years with Steaua’s arch-rivals Dinamo Bucharest. Here are some highlights from the game; Moti’s goalkeeping feats start around the 2:27 mark.