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Graham Carey scores and delivers man-of-the-match display in Bulgaria's 'Eternal derby'

The Dubliner helped CSKA Sofia overcome local rivals Levski.

Screen Shot 2021-09-27 at 17.38.50 Graham Carey is interviewed on Bulgarian TV after CSKA Sofia's derby victory. Source: Diema Sport

A FIFTH GOAL of the season for Graham Carey helped CSKA Sofia win Bulgaria’s ‘Eternal derby’ against bitter rivals Levski Sofia over the weekend.

Carey, who found the net just before half-time in the 2-1 victory, was named man-of-the-match after CSKA continued their encouraging start to the campaign.

Ten days ago, the Irish attacking midfielder gave his side the lead away to Serie A outfit Roma, although Jose Mourinho’s side ultimately ran out 5-1 winners in the Europa Conference League fixture.

Bidding to be crowned Bulgarian champions for the first time since 2008, CSKA now find themselves just two points behind leaders Ludogorets and with the benefit of a game in hand.

“It was a great atmosphere. Our fans were brilliant, as usual, and you could tell how much it meant to them after the game,” Carey said after the win against Levski.

“We’re delighted in the dressing room. We knew how big it was for the fans and for the football club. We can obviously play better but it just shows how well we’re doing this season that we can not play our best and still win big games like this.”

A 32-year-old native of Dublin, Carey is now in his third season in Bulgaria. He joined CSKA from Plymouth Argyle, where he remains a fan-favourite after scoring 49 goals and assisting 58 more while making 197 appearances.

Last season, he helped CSKA win the Bulgarian Cup for the 21st time in the club’s history, as well as playing three times in the group stages of the Europa League.

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After Georgi Milanov gave Levski the lead in yesterday’s derby, Carey levelled the tie with an excellent close-range finish. A second-half goal from Ecuador international Jordy Caicedo sealed the three points for CSKA.

Praising former Bulgaria boss Stoycho Mladenov, who took charge of CSKA in July, Carey said: “He gives me freedom to express myself and also plays me in my right position, behind the striker. He’s put me in there and he’s believed in me. Thankfully I’ve repaid him with some goals and assists, and hopefully that continues for the rest of the season.”

Carey, who began his professional career at Celtic, was capped by Ireland at U21 level but has not earned a senior cap.

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Paul Dollery

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