Romania Liga I
A fascinating clash took place yesterday between championship contenders Vaslui and Dinamo, who were looking to reassert themselves in the race for Europe and prove to the new kids on the block that the old guard are not out of it yet.
As it transpired, Dinamo were made to look tired as a vibrant Vaslui, resplendent in their yellow home shirts, ran them ragged.
Vaslui dominated the first half, and the match began with 20 minutes of relentless pressing and harrying by the men in yellow. Adailton even had the ball in the net with a deft finish (or shinned slice depending on your perspective) but his effort was correctly ruled out for offside. Dinamo looked shellshocked but nevertheless they managed to carve out several half chances to give the home fans something to think about.
In the event, for all their smart passing and direct running it took a straightforward set piece to swing the match in Vaslui’s favour when Wesley poked the ball home as it rattled across the box from a corner. Dinamo were still penned back into their own half as Vaslui loked for the second. Gheorghiu went down in the 35th minute claiming a penalty but replays showed that he trailed his leg and made the most of the minimal contact and therefore he didn’t deserve anything! Just a minute later Wesley and Patrascu were involved in an ugly incident when they both left the ground and slid in for a loose ball with their feet raised. It summed up Dinamo’s luck when Patrascu was booked because Wesley came off worse, when in fact both players were guilty. Canu added the second goal in the second half to leave Vaslui looking towards Timisoara and Otelul while Dinamo remain level on points with both their city rivals.
The fourth Bucharest team, Sportul Studentesc, gave Timisoara a scare today before succumbing 3-2 at Regie. Balan got the goal of the weekend for Sportul by sending an overhead shot looping into the far corner as he faced away from goal. Sportul are doomed, but they can still entertain!
The league remains nicely poised, with Vaslui and Timisoara waiting for Otelul to slip up and the three big Bucharest clubs waiting for anyone to slip up. I am sticking with my prediction that Otelul won’t win the title but they are still going strong at the moment…
Rapid fans will be hugely disappointed this weekend after a winnable Friday night fixture at Bistrita ended in a 3-2 defeat. The manner of the final goal will be the main source of frustration because it seemed entirely avoidable.
Rapid made it 2-2 on 79 minutes with a goal from Ovidiu Herea and it was no more than they deserved after pressing for most of the second half. However, just two minutes later their good work was undone when goalkeeper Coman decided to haul down a Bistrita striker. It was far from a clear cut chance because the ball was bouncing high in the air and there was a defender on hand, but Coman had to go. His red card and the lack of any more substitutes meant that midfielder Mihai Roman took the gloves. Naturally, he didn’t stand a chance with the penalty but for the last ten minutes he managed to pull off a few clumsy but necessary saves as Bistrita were keen to test him. Rapid have now slipped behind Steaua into 6th place and are level on points with Dinamo, who play Targu Mures at Stefan Cel Mare tonight.
Galati remain the team to catch after a 3-0 win over Universitate Cluj, and the team most likely to do so is Timisoara, who beat Branesti 2-0. Just 2 points separate the top teams at this stage.
Steaua owner Gigi Becali is all over the media this morning complaining that his club simply don’t have a team. This may be a fair comment as a reflection on Steaua’s season, but a 1-1 draw at home to 3rd place Vaslui is not such a bad result given Steaua’s current form. Becali is ready to sell the team this summer (I mean sell the players, not the club), which should make for another year of stability and steady progress at Steaua…!
It seems that Steaua will now be locked in a battle with Dinamo, Rapid and CFR Cluj just to qualify for European football next season, but there are several teams standing in their way. Surely at least one of these four teams has to hit some form but could the unthinkable happen and none of these teams make it into the Europa league?
Next week there will be an international break and Romania travel to Bosnia for a Euro 2012 qualifier. My money’s on a 0-0 draw but Romania need to get some points on the board if they’re to have any hope of making the finals. HAI ROMANIA!!
We are now two weeks back into the season, and so I thought it was about time to introduce myself and what I will be doing in this blog.
Firstly, I am not Romanian. I have lived in Romania for four years, and as a very keen football fan it seemed like a natural thing for me to follow the Romanian league and bring my thoughts to the wider world. As a non-partisan football fan I hope I can give an objective view of the football and as an outsider I hope I can make some sense of the good, bad and ugly occurrences of the Romanian league.
I am based in Bucharest and therefore the club I have been to most often is Steaua Bucharest. This is the most famous Romanian football team outside of Romania and also the best supported within Romania. I suppose if I had to compare them with an English team I would have to say Liverpool, because despite their large fanbase they are struggling to rediscover their successful history. Similarly to Liverpool in recent time, Steaua fans have issues with the club’s ownership, but we won’t go into all that now. I attended this season’s Europa League tie between the two clubs at Ghencea and I don’t see either club achieving anything this season.
I also have a soft spot for Sportul Studentesc. As a Brit I usually find myself rooting for a plucky underdog, and Sportul are completely overshadowed in their own city by the big three (Steaua, Rapid and Dinamo). Their existence is based on the production of young players and they have an impressive list of graduates. They will probably be relegated this season but they’ll be back!
I usually watch at least 2 games a week and I don’t follow any particular club. As I am starting to provide coverage from halfway through the season I thought that I would try to sum up what I have seen by giving some midseason awards. I’m sure that there will be lots of people ready to disagree with me, so I look forward to hearing from them! I am basing this on the games I have seen, so here goes:
Best team to watch: Rapid Bucharest I have enjoyed watching Rapid this year and I think they have had a positive approach to every game. When their attackers click they are an entertaining side.
Best coach: Dorinel Munteanu (Otelul Galati) This is a bit of a no-brainer. Galati have been the surprise package of the season and currently sit top of the league. They have passed every test so far including an away win at Dinamo. If they actually manage to hang on until the end then Munteanu will have pulled off a minor miracle.
Best player: Mihai Roman (Rapid) I cannot remember seeing too many outstanding performances this season. I’ve chosen Roman because I enjoy watching him play and from what I’ve seen he is the most exciting young Romanian player. He is very direct and he doesn’t always make the best decisions but he will improve.
Inconsistency reigns supreme in the Romanian league, which makes for a very tight title race. I cannot predict the winners of the title, but I will put my neck on the line and say that it won’t be Galati. I genuinely hope I’m wrong but I just can’t see them holding on. On that bombshell, I’ll wind it up.
In week 30, the focus was on the Dinamo Bucureşti – Steaua Bucureşti derby which ended in a 1-1 draw which came with Gigi Becali issuing some choice words to describe Dinamo fans during the week. After a tightly played match Steaua Bucureşti took the lead with nine minutes remaining. Accepting the ball just outside the box Tiago Gomes laid the ball off to the right for Eric Bicfalvi whose effort from twenty-plus metres was helped in by Cosmin Moţi’s deflection. It seemed that Steaua had the upset but the Roş-albii came back as with three minutes left Claudiu Niculescu’s free-kick from thirty metres careened off Petre Marin and into the net to bring the match even.
Unirea Urziceni missed a chance to pull even with Dinamo as they were held to a 1-1 draw by defending champion CFR Cluj. The draw leaves Dan Petrescu’s side two points behind Dinamo with Cluj trailing Universitatea Craiova in the final Europa League spot due to goal differential. Romanian international Bogdan Mara gave Cluj the 1-0 lead four minutes in as he fearlessly dove to head in Alvaro Pereira’s cross from the left. Nine minutes later former Huracán man Pablo Brandán squared the match as he sent in Răzvan Pădureţu’s free-kick from left in from close range.
The Viorel Hizo led Rapid Bucureşti continued on the winning path as it defeated relegation condemned Gloria Buzău 1-0 on a late goal. A minute into added time Lucian Răduţă won a clearance in the area and the ball came to Pinto who after a controlling touch sent the ball in from the six yard box.
Timişoara returned to the winning column with a 1-0 hard fought victory over Oţelul Galaţi bringing Gabi Balint’s side to within four points of Dinamo. The leagues top scorer, Romanian international Gigi Bucur broke the deadlock midway of the half as he out dueled Galaţi defender Sergiu Costin for a long ball on the right, turned and drove the ball with this left foot to the inside post.
Răzvan Lucescu’s FC Braşov got back into hunt for European football League hunt with a 2-1 victory over Farul Constanţa. Braşov opened the scoring sixteen minutes in as captain Robert Ilyes made it 1-0 from the spot after a Romeo Surdu by Farul ‘keeper George Curcă. Eight minutes later rising star Sabrin Sburlea made it 2-0. With twenty minutes remaining Willian Gerlem’s free-kick from the left into the box was nodded in by Ben Teekloh to bring the match within one but that was it got and the match ended with Braşov winning 2-1.
Universitatea Craiova maintain their spot in the Europa League with a tight 1-0 victory over CS Otopeni. With the match deadlocked Florin Costea found the winning touch with twelve minutes remaining as he redirected Florin Costin Şoava’s effort from the left into the net from the edge of the six yard box.
Vaslui kept its slim European football hopes alive with a 2-1 defeat of Gaz Metan Mediaş via Wesley’s late goal. After remaining scoreless for seventy-nine minutes Viorel Moldovan’s side broke the deadlock as Bulgarian international Stanislav Genchev raced down the right channel before driving the ball in from ten metres. Only four minutes later Mediaş leveled the match as Florin Sabou sent a dipping effort from beyond the box over Vaslui ‘keeper Dušan Kuciak and into the net. However with three minutes left in the match Wesley drilled a free-kick over the wall and into the net for the 2-1 win.
Argeş Piteşti defeated Gloria Bistriţa 2-1 via Elias Bazzi’s brace. Piteşti took the lead seventeen minutes in as Bazzi struck a free kick in from eighteen metres. The Vampirii Albaştri fought back and three minutes past the half hour as veteran Dorel Zaharia redirected Liviu Băjenaru’s long free kick in. Elias Bazzi came back three minutes past the hour with the winning strike as he dipped a free-kick from sixteen metres over the wall and into the net.
Fighting to avoid relegation Poli Iaşi held off mid-table side Pandurii Târgu Jiu for an important point, playing to a 1-1 draw. Romanian international Andrei Cristea gave Iaşi the lead only twenty seconds into into the match as he broke up a lazy pass and drove the ball from a few metres beyond the area. Two minutes before the hour Florin Stîngă squared the match up as he headed a corner in from the edge of the six yard box.
Dinamo Bucureşti maintained its two point lead on Unirea Urziceni with a narrow 1-0 victory over Oţelul Galaţi. The matches lone goal came eleven minutes before the break as Claudiu Niculescu continues his resurgent play with Dinamo as he split the defenders to play Ionel Dănciulescu through the right channel who then drove the ball to the top left corner from ten metres.
Dan Petrescu’s Unirea Urziceni stayed within two points of Dinamo Bucureşti with a 1-0 victory over Farul Constanţa. Two minutes before the break Iulian Apostol got revenge on his old club with the matches long goal. After sending in a corner from that left that was cleared back to him Apostol drove the back towards Marius Bilaşco at the near post and ended up in the back of the net after an opportunistic bounce.
Gloria Bistriţa leap out of the relegation zone with a shocking 1-0 defeat of Răzvan Lucescu’s FC Braşov. The matches lone goal with seven minutes remaining after a controversial penalty call. Noted veteran Cristi Coroian stepped up and drove the ball in for the 1-0 victory.
Steaua Bucureşti readied for Friday’s derby clash against Dinamo Bucureşti with a 1-0 victory over relegation condemned Gloria Buzău. The victory extends the Roş-Albaştrii unbeaten streak to six matches as they pull with four points of Timişoara. Marius Lăcătuş’ side took the lead sixteen minutes in as George Ogăraru played the ball to Juan Carlos Toja a few metres outside the box and after a quick pass to the left Bogdan Stancu pounded the ball to make it 1-0.
Poli Iaşi leapfrogged out of the relegation zone over Gaz Metan Mediaş with a thundering 4-0 victory over Argeş Piteşti. After a scoreless opening hour Iaşi poured in four goals in the remaining time. Two minutes past the hour Petar Jovanović sent a cross from the left into box that Andrei Cristea headed-in from six metres. Ten minutes later Cristea turned provider as he sent a low cross for Romulus Miclea to volley-in from a few metres out. Slovenian international Domen Beršnjak added the third goal with thirteen minutes remaining as he played a smooth one-two with Cristea before driving the ball into the far left corner from twelve metres. Beršnjak returned the favour as he supplied Andrei Cristea a long ball which he drove in from just inside the box for his second goal of the day as regulation time ran out
Once again Viorel Hizo came to rescue as the sixty-two year-old manager returned to lead Rapid Bucureşti for this fifth stint. Following the loss to Gaz Metan Mediaş, the wise veteran leader took charge and in his first match in-charge Rapid responded with a 3-0 devastation of CS Otopeni. After a scoring opening half Rapid took charge with João Paulo Andrade sent a powerful drive into the back of the net from twenty-five plus metres. Only six minutes later superb young product Lucian Răduţă scooped up a rebound of a João Paulo Andrade’s blocked attempt and drove the ball in from just inside the area. A minute into added time Ştefan Grigorie made it 3-0 as he took advantage of a similar loose ball and sent it in from fourteen metres.
FC Vaslui kept its European football hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Pandurii Târgu Jiu. Mike Temwanjera gave Vaslui the lead eighteen minutes into the match with his sixth goal of the campaign.
After losing to Pandurii Târgu Jiu last week, Universitatea Craiova responded with a 2-0 victory over Gaz Metan Mediaş. After a tight opening period Craiova took the lead as Julius Wobay free-kick from the left was flicked on by Valerică Găman to the back post with Florin Costea nodding it in. Romanian U-21 Constantin Gângioveanu was the creator of the second goal as with twenty-one minutes remaining he sent a cross from the bye-line into the box that Mihai Dina headed-in off the far post.
Gabi Balint’s Timişoara lost important ground in their championship race as they fell 2-0 to defending champions CFR Cluj. After a scoreless half Diego Ruiz gave Cluj the lead five minutes in as he accepted Sixto Peralta short volley into the box before driving the ball in from ten metres. With eighteen minutes left Ruiz turned provider as raced into the box before sending the ball to Sebastián Dubarbier on his left, who drove the ball into the top of the net from twelve metres to make it 2-0.
Dinamo Bucureşti continued to drive forward for the championship defeating Farul Constanţa 3-1. Four minutes before the half hour Farul had the surprising 1-0 lead as Claudiu Voiculeţ’s free kick from the left into the box was turned in by Bruno Simão as an own-goal. At the thirty-eighth minutes Dinamo equalized the match as Gabriel Torje sent the ball to Adrian Cristea on his left on the edge of the area, who then powered the ball to the bottom right corner. Only two minutes later after Cosmin Moţi led a fast assault with Ionel Dănciulescu scored near the same spot to make it 2-1. After the break Dinamo extended its lead to 3-1 as Gabriel Torje capitalized on Ionel Dănciulescu’s perfect through-ball down the right channel before chipping over the onrushing ‘keeper George Curcă from eleven metres out. However the best was still to come as veteran Claudiu Niculescu made it 4-1 with ten minutes left as he intercepted a back-pass from Ben Teekloh, circled the ‘keeper to the right before striking the ball in.
Dan Petrescu continues to make a name for himself as one of the sports top young managers as his Unirea Urziceni defeated Politehnica Iaşi 2-1 with early goals by Cristian Dănălache and Ricardo Gomes.
Gabi Balint’s Timişoara squeezed out a narrow 1-0 victory over Gloria Bistriţa to pull within three points of Dinamo. In a very controversial call Mădălin Ciucă was shown his second yellow card with fifteen minutes left, forcing Bistriţa to play a man down for the balance of the match. Finally a minute into added time the deadlock was broken as Alexandru Curtean accepted Iasmin Latovlevici’s pass and fired a shocking drive to the top left corner from twenty five metres past ‘keeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu.
Universitatea Craiova continued its pursuit of European football with a 1-0 victory over Argeş Piteşti. After a tightly played match Jérémie N’Jock scored the winner with fourteen minutes remaining headubg-in Romanian international Dorel Stoica’s free-kick from the left.
CFR Cluj dropped important points in the as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Oţelul Galaţi. With four minutes left in the opening half Gabriel Mureşan was shown a straight red forcing Cluj to play a man down for the balance of the match. On the resulting free-kick Zhivko Zhelev gave Galaţi the lead as he struck a free-kick from just outside the area that took a helping deflection off the wall and into the net. Three minutes past the hour in a fast counter-attack led by Sebastián Dubarbier, Yssouf Koné received the ball on his left and sent the ball in from twelve metres.
Marian Rada’s Rapid Bucureşti crept into a Europa League spot with a 2-0 victory over Pandurii Târgu Jiu. Juliano Spadacio gave Rapid six minutes before the half-hour as he accepted Radomir Đalović provision at the top of the box before driving the ball in via a opportunistic deflection off Târgu Jiu defender Alin Chibulcutean. Spadacio doubled the margin with seventeen minutes remaining as he struck a free-kick to the left corner from twenty metres out.
Gaz Metan Mediaş continued its incredible turnaround as they defeated Gloria Buzău 2-1. Eric gave Mediaş the lead three minutes past the half-hour striking a free-kick from eighteen metres in before Ioan Mera squared the match up five minutes later as he headed in a corner. However with just under a half-hour remaining Eric grabbed his second of the day with a breathtaking curling free-kick from twenty-five metres to the opposite left corner.
Week 26 of Liga 1 concluded with Dinamo Bucureşti holding a narrow lead over Unirea Urziceni and Timişoara.
After losing to Politehnica Iaşi, Dinamo Bucureşti responded with a 5-0 defeat of Gloria Bistriţa. Marius Niculae opened the scoring at the twentieth minute in his first of three goals as he headed in Zé Kalanga’s cross from twelve metres out before adding his second, heading in Gabriel Boştină’s cross four minutes before the hour. The same combination clicked sixteen minute later for Niculae’s third of the day. Osvaldo Miranda and Ionel Dănciulescu rounded out the scoring for Dinamo.
Gabi Balint’s Timişoara continued their push for the championship with a 3-0 victory over Politehnica Iaşi led by the unsung brilliance of Arman Karamyan. Timişoara grabbed the lead eleven minutes in as Arman Karamyan accepted a cross on the right and out-maneuvered the Iaşi defender before sending the ball to the opposite corner. Timişoara doubled its lead eight minutes into the new half via Gheorghe Bucur who ran under a long ball down the left before turning back to score from eight metres. The day was not done as with six minutes left Iaşi keeper Răzvan Pleşca could only partially stop Lukáš Magera’s shot from inside the box with the rebound coming to Artiom Karamyan who turned the ball in from close range.
Dan Petrescu’s Unirea Urziceni extended it’s unbeaten streak to nine with a tough 1-0 victory over FC Vaslui. The only goal came at the thirteenth minute as Marius Bilaşco volleyed in Sorin Frunză free-kick.
With both clubs fighting for a Europa League spot, the battle between Steaua Bucureşti and defending champions CFR Cluj was ripe with tension. The match didn’t disappoint in passion playing to a 1-1 draw with both sides finishing off a man down. Cluj took the lead nine minutes in as Juan Culio hit the mark from nine metres from Yssouf Koné’s through ball. Three minutes before the break the match boiled over with Florin Lovin shown a straight red-card forcing Steaua to play a man down but despite the disadvantage the match was level eight minutes into the new half. 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 and despite a great chance by Ricardo Pedriel late the match ended 1-1.
Following their 3-1 victory over Braşov, Rapid Bucureşti manager Marian Rada had his sights set on the closing the gap for a Europa League berth as his side traveled to face controversy-laden Argeş Piteşti on Tuesday. Despite the very serious problems Argeş is facing they defeated Rapid 1-0 with the matches lone goal coming from Adrian Iordache a thirty minutes in. Rapid had a great chance to level the match early in the new half but Juliano Spadacio couldn’t connect from the spot.
Not ready to dropped without a fight Gaz Metan Mediaş defeated CS Otopeni 3-0. Zarko Marković broke the deadlock four minutes into the new half via a corner. Cristian Bud proved why he is one of the most talked of players in the last month scoring adding two goals including a stunning drive with
with eighteen minutes remaining.
Elsewhere Oţelul Galaţi increased Farul ’s relegation concerns with a 2-0 defeat and Pandurii Târgu Jiu sent Gloria Bistriţa to their beautiful home with a 1-0 defeat.
Week 25 of Romania Liga 1 opened with Steaua Bucureşti 1-0 defeat of Gaz Metan Mediaş with Pantelis Kapetanos scored the matches lone goal a minute before the hour as he flicked in Bănel Nicoliţă’s corner.
Gloria Buzău earned its second win of the year defeated Argeş Piteşti 3-1. Ioan Mera opened the scoring for Buzău only two minutes into the match. However Cosmin Năstăsie brought the match even nineteen minutes in nodding-in Cristian Tănaseand’s corner and set the stage for a whirlwind finish. With eight minutes remaining Marian Chiţu’s superb run down the left flank and low cross to Gueye Mansour gave Buzău the 2-1 lead. As regulation time ran down Chiţu half-volleyed the ball in from just outside the area to make it 3-1.
The showdown between Universitatea Craiova and Unirea Urziceni ended in scoreless draw. Craiova had the best chance early as Ştefan Bărboianu struck the crossbar from thirty metres a quarter of a hour into the match
On Saturday, upsets were in the making in shocking day.
CFR Cluj defeated Farul Constanţa 1-0 with the lone goal coming from Lacina Traore heading-in Emmanuel Culio’s cross from left with twenty-three minutes left.
CS Otopeni was disappointed at home, losing 1-0 to Pandurii Târgu Jiu with Novak Martinović headed-in a free-kick from close-range with seventeen minutes left on the clock.
Oţelul Galaţi fell 3-0 to Gloria Bistriţa. Diogo Ramos opened the scoring seventeen minutes after the opening whistle. Two minutes into the new half Cristian Coroian doubled the margin with Dorel Zaharia added the third goal with twelve minutes left in regulation.
Rapid Bucureşti defeated Braşov 3-1. Juliano Spadacio opened the scoring for Rapid twenty minutes into the match with a perfect free-kick from twenty metres to the top left corner. Eight minutes after the re-start Nicolae Grigore made it 2-0 for Rapid in one the nicest goals of the week as he accepted a long pass from João Paulo Andrade, controlled it with one touch and then volleyed into the netting. Romanian U21 Sabrin Sburlea brought Braşov with one with four minutes left on the clock as he headed-in Rui Duarte long cross into the box. However Nicolae Grigore sealed the match for Rapid with the second of his night after a well-played one-two with Radomir Đalović.
Timişoara lost to Vaslui 4-3 after taking a early two goal lead. Romanian international Gheorghe Bucur gave Gabi Balint’s Timişoara a two goal cushion as he headed-in Alexandru Curtean’s well placed cross from the six-yard box at the sixth minute and then from the spot two minutes later. Vasuli brought the match level with Wesley hitting the target two minutes before the half hour, only to be followed up by Srdjan Luchin’s own goal. Armenian international Artavazd Karamyan restored Timişoara’s lead seven minutes past the hour with a unstoppable left-footed drive to the top of the box. Mike Temwanjera evened the match with twenty-one minutes left as he sent in the rebound of Lucian Burdujan’s shot. With four minutes left Nemanja Milisavljević headed-in a long cross from three metres for the shocking win.
However nothing prepared Liga 1 fans for the biggest surprise, that being Politehnica Iaşi 1-0 defeat of Dinamo Bucureşti 1-0 with Lucian Munteanu finding the winner as he rose high the head-in a corner with three minutes left in the match.
Cupa României moves the semi-finals Dinamo Bucureşti, Timişoara, CFR Cluj and Vaslui and advancing.
Dinamo Bucureşti defeated Rapid Bucureşti 4-2 in an exciting match. Costin Lazăr gave Rapid the one goal lead ten minutes into the match however an own-goal by Dănuț Perjă leveled it eight minutes later. Gabriel Boştină gave Dinamo the lead eight minutes before the half volleying in a loose ball from the top of the box following a corner. Six minutes past the hour Marius Niculae doubled Dinamo’s lead as he headed Adrian Scarlatache’s cross in. With ten minutes left the Romanian international Niculae added his second of the night as he stylishly chipped the ball over the ‘keeper before heading it in. João Paulo Andrade added a consolation goal for Rapid in the second minute of added time but the match as decided with Dinamo winning 4-2.
Timişoara defeated Gloria Bistriţa 2-0 with both goals coming in the last minutes of the match. Just as regulation time ended striker Lukáš Magera raced into the box to fire a shot through goalkeeper Călin Albuţ’s net and into the net. Two minutes into added time Alex Curtean drove the insurance goal in.
Defending champions CFR Cluj edged Pandurii Târgu Jiu 1-0. In a highly controversial decision Alexandru Piţurcă was adjudged a penalty off a corner, resulting in the matches lone goal as Sixto Peralta converted from the spot with two minutes left in the half.
The big upset of quarter-finals was Vaslui’s 2-0 defeat Unirea Urziceni. Wesley gave the Vaslui the lead thirty two minutes into the match as he volleyed in Nemanja Milisavljević’s cross from eleven metres. Bulgarian Stanislav Genchev doubled the margin with eleven minutes remaining as he drove the ball in from thirty-five metres.
The semi-finals will now pair CFR Cluj versus Vaslui and Dinamo Bucureşti versus Timişoara
The showcase match of the Liga 1 week 24 between Timişoara and Universitatea Craiova ended with a 1-0 victory for Timişoara. After Nicolò Napoli’s side missed a chance to take the lead with Dorel Stoica unable to convert from the spot, the lone goal came three minutes into the new half. Romania’s Gheorghe Bucur worked the ball to Arman Karamyan inside the six-yard box with the Armenian international, continuing his hot-streak after scoring twice in their 2-0 defeat of Rapid Bucureşti last week, to turn in the winning score.
First-place Dinamo Bucureşti rebounded after their disappointing loss to Universitatea Craiova with a 4-1 victory over Vaslui 4-1 as Romanian international Marius Niculae scored three times. Niculae opened the scoring six minutes before the half-hour as he converted from the spot after a penalty was adjudged on Gabriel Cânu. The complexion of the match changed two minutes before the hour Cânu received his second yellow-card and Vaslui were forced to play a man down. Twenty minutes later Dinamo extended its lead as Niculae re-directed Gabriel Torje’s corner in with minutes left. Mike Temwanjera brought the match within one with nine minutes remaining. Ianis Zicu restored the two goal lead with three minutes before Niculae notched his fourth as regulation ran out from Ionel Dănciulescu’s provision.
Dan Petrescu’s Unirea Urziceni lost points to Dinamo in their championship race as Rapid Bucureşti held them to a 1-1 draw. João Paulo Andrade on-loan from FC Porto gave Rapid the lead twenty-one minutes into the match. However Marius Bilaşco added the leveler for Urziceni eight minutes past the hour as he struck a perfect free-kick from just outside the area and into the back of the net. Rapid played the final twenty-two minutes with Juliano Spadacio who was shown his second yellow but Unirea Urziceni were unable to make use of the man advantage.
Farul Constanţa came from behind to draw even with Marius Lăcătuş’ Steaua Bucureşti 1-1. Bogdan Stancu gave Steaua the lead eleven minutes into the new half before Chico leveled with eighteen minutes remaining.
Gloria Bistriţa shocked defending champions CFR Cluj with a goal in fourth minute of added time to bring the match to a 2-2 draw. Diogo Ramos gave Bistriţa at the twenty-third minute before Uruguayan international Alvaro Pereira leveled the match for Cluj nine minutes later from a tight angle the the Bistriţa could not handle and the ball evaded him. Two minutes after the break Cluj took the lead with Peralta’s second of the day striking from ten metres after being played through. Yssouf Koné could have put the match away with four minutes later but could not convert from the spot. However in the fourth minute of added-time João Silva squared the match up at two as his close-range shot deflected off Juan Culio and into the net.
Braşov devastated Gloria Bistriţa 4-0 with captain Robert Ilyeş finding the net twice. Romeo Surdu, on-loan from Steaua, opened the scoring at the twenty-third minute before
Ezequias doubled the margin eleven minutes later. Robert Ilyeş added the third six minutes before the break and the final goal of the day at the eighty-second minute.
Argeş Piteşti played relegation candidates CS Otopeni to a 1-1 draw. Cosmin Năstăsie opened the scoring for Piteşti twenty-one minutes in with Romanian U-21 Liviu Ganea squaring the match four minutes before the hour.
Gaz Metan Mediaş problems continued as they lost to Pandurii Târgu Jiu with Milanko Rašković’s goal from just outside the area only a minute into the match.
Oţelul Galaţi defeated Politehnica Iaşi 3-2 with a late goal by Poli Iaşi took the lead fifteen minutes in with Ionuţ Bâlbă finding the back of the net. Alexandru Bourceanu brought the match level nine minutes later only from the spot to be followed with Adrian Sălăgean’s goal just before the half-hour. Romanian international Andrei Cristea leveled the match just before the break. However with eleven minutes left Zhivko Zhelev added the winner for Galaţi.
In upcoming action this Thurday, Steaua Bucureşti travel to face Gaz Metan Mediaş, Argeş Piteşti heads to Gloria Buzău and Universitatea Craiova welcomes Unirea Urziceni. Friday match-ups include CFR Cluj’s visit of Farul Constanţa, CS Otopeni hosting Pandurii Târgu Jiu and Oţelul Galaţi’s trip to Gloria Bistriţa. In other key matches Braşov travels to Rapid Bucureşti as both sides are in hot pursuit of a Europa League spot, while second-place Timişoara visits Vaslui and relegation concerned Politehnica Iaşi welcome first-place Dinamo Bucureşti.