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Magic Mitea seals Skopje success

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

By Igor Panevski

[1] Romania remained in contention in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 1 as two Nicolae Mitea goals ensured Slobodan Santrac's reign as coach of F.Y.R. Macedonia began with a defeat.

Third place

[2] The result moved the visitors up to 13 points from seven games, three points behind the Netherlands and two adrift of the Czech Republic, although Victor Piturca's side have played a game more than both sides. F.Y.R. Macedonia, meanwhile, stayed fifth with five points.

Pandev problem

[3] At Skopje's Gradski stadium, Santrac lost influential striker Goran Pandev to a knee ligament injury sustained in the warm-up, but nevertheless the home side began brightly and carved out the first chance of the night in the 16th minute. Velice Sumulikoski's pass found Goran Maznov in space but, although Goran Jancevski was in support, Maznov opted to shoot and the Romanian defence was able to scramble the ball away for a corner.

Mitea finish

[4] Two minutes later the visitors were in front as Goce Sedloski's slip left Mitea unmarked in front of goal, and the AFC Ajax midfield player gave goalkeeper Petar Milosveski no chance. F.Y.R. Macedonia tried to rally and might have levelled seven minutes later as Jancevski's pass gave Vlatko Grozdanovski a shooting chance, but his shot from the edge of the area flew wide.

Opportunist interview

[5] A minute past the half-hour, however, the home team did find an equaliser, as the Romanian defence failed to deal with Mile Krstev's attempted pass to Maznov, who was left alone in front of Bogdan Lobont's goal to make it 1-1. It might have been even better for Santrac's side as Jancevski carved out another opportunity, this time for Krstev, but again the effort was wayward.

Composed finish

[6] Romania regained the lead 13 minutes into the second half thanks to Mitea's second goal of the game. The midfield player skipped past Robert Popov and rifled his shot into the corner of the net for the decisive goal. The final margin might have been even greater as Gheorghe Bucur found Florentin Petre unmarked in front of goal ten minutes from time, but Milosevski reacted smartly to block his point-blank effort.

Dutch trip

[7] Romania had already done enough to take the three points, however, and continue their bid to reach next year's finals on 4 June in the Netherlands. F.Y.R. Macedonia, meanwhile, are next in action in Armenia the same day.

Vlatko Grozdanovski of F.Y.R. Macedonia (left) challenges Romania's Cosmin Contra