A Ciprian Marica double against Estonia was enough for Romania to finish runners-up in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group D and clinch a play-off place. Romania 2 – Estonia 0. Ciprian Marica scored in each half to secure the hosts’ second place in Group D behind the Netherlands and a play-off berth, uefa.com reports. Level on points with Turkey going into the final round of matches, Romania knew that only a win and a favourable result elsewhere would ensure they came second in the section. In the event, Marica guaranteed that Romania did their bit with a first-half penalty and another goal nine minutes from time to capitalise on Turkey’s home defeat by section winners the Netherlands. The Romanian team should thank the Netherlands, a team that defeated Turkey 2-0. “Well, you can send the flowers to the Netherlands. I hope Romania will reach the World Cup,” Arjen Robben stated, Prosport informs.
The visitors made much of the early running in Bucharest with Konstantin Vassiljev and Tarmo Kink coming close to an opener. However, Victor Piţurca’s charges made them pay on the half-hour when Bogdan Stancu was felled by Mikk Reintam and Marica kept his cool from the spot.
Gheorghe Grozav saw his second-half attempt well saved by Sergei Pareiko before Getafe CF forward Marica put the result beyond doubt with his second in the 81st minute to edge Romania a step closer to their first World Cup finals since 1998. The Romanians will be hoping for a better outcome than their last World Cup play-off experience – a loss to Slovenia in qualifying for the 2002 edition. “No matter who our opponent will be, we will be second favourites,” said coach Piţurcă. “However, you can be certain that our opponents will find it very tough against us. We will take our chances.”
In his turn, Mircea Lucescu talked about the opponents that Romania could meet in the playoffs for the World Cup 2014. “I wouldn’t recommend Ukraine at this moment. I believe Greece would be the best opponent for us,” Shakhtar Donetsk’s coach stated for HotNews.ro. “I don’t know Portugal’s potential, but they have a player that could make the difference at any moment – Cristiano Ronaldo,” Lucescu added.
Here are the teams that qualified for the playoffs: Croatia, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine, Sweden, France, Romania, Iceland. Romania will meet one of the following teams in the playoffs: Croatia (10th in the FIFA standings), Portugal (11th), Greece (12th) and Ukraine (26th). For the second pot: Sweden, Franta, Romania and Iceland. The playoff games will be played on November 15 and 19. Romania (not seeded) will play the first game at home. The draws will take place on October 21