By Angel Krasimirov
RAZGRAD, Bulgaria - Ludogorets clinched a record 10th successive Bulgarian league title with four games to spare by beating Beroe Stara Zagora 3-1 on Tuesday to register the longest current title run in Europe.
The Razgrad-based club, who never looked in any real danger during the season, have an unassailable 14-point lead over CSKA Sofia and 15-point gap to third-placed Lokomotiv Plovdiv, who have a game in hand but an inferior head-to-head record.
Bulgaria winger Kiril Despodov, on loan from Serie A side Cagliari, put the hosts ahead before the half-hour but Congolese striker Gaius Makouta equalised with a penalty seven minutes from the break after a VAR check for handball by Olivier Verdon.
Ludogorets midfielder Dominik Yankov scored in the 79th and Romania striker Claudiu Keseru – the league’s top scorer with 17 goals- added the third after coming off the bench to secure the win that extended The Eagles’ domination in the Balkan country.
"This is the first Bulgarian title for me and I think we deserve it," said Ludogorets’ Lithuanian coach Valdas Dambrauskas, who has won nine trophies at home and in Latvia.
"We were the best team in the championship."
Dambrauskas is Ludogorets third coach this term, having taken over in January from interim boss Stanislav Genchev who replaced Czech Pavel Vrba after he was sacked in October.
Ludogorets were promoted to the top-flight for the first time in 2011 and clinched their first title the following year. They have also won two Bulgarian Cups and four Supercups in the last eight years.
CSKA Sofia, who won nine consecutive titles between 1954 and 1962, are Bulgaria's most successful club domestically with 31 league titles followed by Levski Sofia on 26 and Ludogorets.
The European record for consecutive league titles is shared by Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar (2003-2016) and Latvia's Skonto Riga (1991-2004), who both won 14 in a row.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ken Ferris)