Burgas - VfB Stuttgart have maintained their chances of reaching the UEFA Europa League play-offs, despite squandering the lead in a 1-1 draw at Bulgarian side PFC Botev Plovdiv in the competition's third qualifying round.

Vedad Ibisevic's second-half strike looked to have set Bruno Labbadia's men on their way, but Valeri Domovchiyski's quick response left the tie on a knife-edge ahead of the return leg on 8 August, 2013.

VfB in command


Stuttgart were the more adventurous of the two during the opening stages of their first competitive outing in 2013/14 , but failed to convert their dominance into a tangible reward against Bulgaria's table-toppers. Daniel Schwaab, Konstantin Rausch and Moritz Leitner featured in a new-look VfB side, who quickly settled into their rhythm, as a fluent performance produced promising chances for Ibisevic and Ibrahima Traore.

With the home side's counter-attacking approach failing to take effect and Stuttgart's defence proving extremely difficult to beat, a stunning strike from Todor Nedelev proved the only serious warning for the visitors before the break.

Chances at both ends


However, the Bundesliga side remained very much in the driving seat and their dominance appeared to have paid off in the 67th minute when Ibisevic nodded Alexandru Maxim's pin-point free-kick into the back of the net.

The Swabians' lead did not last long though, as Valeri Domovchiyski, a summer recruit from relegated Bundesliga 2 side MSV Duisburg, levelled matters for the hosts. Opportunities at both ends in the dying minutes could have seen the encounter go either way, with substitute Maxim missing the best of them, but ultimately both sides were forced to settle for a draw with Stuttgart boasting an away goal, which could prove pivotal in the tie.