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Romania edge thrilling tie

Wednesday, 18 August 2004

By Paul-Daniel Zaharia at the Giulesti stadium

[1] A Florentin Petre goal seven minutes from time proved decisive as Romania opened their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 1 campaign with victory.

Late consolation

[2] The FC Dinamo Bucuresti midfield player's strike gave the home side a two-goal cushion and although Aleksei Eremenko Jr scored an added-time penalty to reduce the deficit for Finland, it was little more than a consolation as Romania held on to take all three points.

Third-time lucky

[3] Adrian Mutu opened the scoring from a free-kick five minutes after the interval to give his side a deserved lead. After earlier testing Finland goalkeeper Antii Niemi twice from well-executed set-pieces, the Chelsea FC player made it third-time lucky with a 22-metre free-kick that flew into the top right-hand corner.

Reshuffled defence

[4] The goal came after a quiet first half in which both sides had to adapt to enforced changes. A injuries had forced Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu to shuffle his pack, with Cosmin Barcauan and Sorin Ghionea forming an inexperienced central defensive partnership.

Narrow misses

[5] Iordanescu also surprised with his tactics. Rather than dominating possession and building from the back in the style that Romania are known, his side directed a series of long balls to the strikers. The adjustment wrought reward too, with Dinamo striker Ionel Danciulescu threatening Niemi's goal on three occasions, but narrowly missing the target each time.

Late change

[6] Finland were forced to make changes of their own after Mikael Forssell had to withdraw hours before kick-off through illness. In his absence, Jonatan Johansson played as a lone striker and the Charlton Athletic FC man had the visitors' best opening of the first half, crashing a header against the bar after Bogdan Lobont had parried.


[7] Romania pressed from the outset in the second half before Mutu finally beat the resolute Finland defence. Mutu punctured the back-line again on 65 minutes but substitute Florin Cernat was denied by the in-form Niemi. Romania were reduced to ten men with 15 minutes remaining when Barcauan saw red but still extended their lead through Petre.

Rat handball

[8] Finland's numerical advantage lasted just ten minutes, though, as Mika Vayrynen received a second yellow card and, like Romania, they responded with a goal when Eremenko converted from the penalty spot after a handball by Razvan Rat. But it was too little too late.

September fixtures

[9] Romania now welcome F.Y.R. Macedonia on 4 September, when Finland play Andorra. Four days later Romania visit Andorra, Finland travel to Armenia and the remaining group contenders, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, meet.

Finland's Mika Vayrynen (left) challenges Mirel Radoi