Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Steaua Bucureşti and CFR Cluj play to draw

With both clubs fighting for a Europa League spot, the battle between Steaua Bucureşti and defending champions CFR Cluj had all the makings of a heavyweight title bout. For Marius Lăcătuş' the situation was clear as given the final Europa League spot, presently held by Universitatea Craiova, has four clubs within two points a victory was needed was they welcome Cluj to Bucureşti.

As expected, both sides took a curmudgeonly approach tactical and provided limited attacking opportunities as the match play to a 1-1 draw with both sides finishing off with ten men on the pitch. Cluj took the lead not quite nine minutes in as Juan Culio hit the mark from nine metres after Yssouf Koné sent him a perfectly weighted through ball through the left channel past Steaua defender George Ogăraru. Three minutes before the break the match boiled over with Florin Lovin shown a straight red-card forcing Steaua to play a man down. Despite the disadvantage eight minutes into the new half Steaua found the leveler as Tiago Gomes supplied Dayro Moreno the ball just outside the area and the Columbian international turned to fire past Cluj 'keeper Eduard Stăncioiu. Sixteen minutes later the clubs were playing on equal terms as Cluj captain Cristian Panin was sent off with his second yellow. Looking for the win with seven minutes remaining Steaua had a perfect chance as Ricardo Pedriel as in-clear on the Cluj goal via Sorin Ghionea's long provision but Stăncioiu dispatched him of the ball before he could get a final touch and the match ended 1-1.

Steaua Bucureşti returns the action on Sunday as they travel to face seemingly relegation doomed CS Otopeni whilst Cluj returns to Champions League quest as they welcome Oţelul Galaţi.