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March 4, 2021

Champions League: CFR draw leaves Roma home and dry

CFR 1907 Cluj achieved their modest aim of not losing against AS Roma in their final Group E fixture (final score 1-1), with the Giallorossi delighted to be heading into the round of 16 as “golden underdogs”.
Roma needed a point to be sure of finishing second in Group E, and they rarely looked in danger of falling short after Borriello struck in the 21st minute. Unable to take numerous second-half chances, the visitors had to settle for a share of the spoils when Traore equalised late on, but with FC Basel 1893 losing 3-0 at FC Bayern Munich, Claudio Ranieri’s side could have afforded defeat in Romania.

Adamant they would be taking nothing for granted against a CFR side who proved awkward opponents in the clubs’ three previous UEFA Champions League meetings, Roma’s match plans suffered a late blow when goalkeeper Julio Sergio was forced out with an injury sustained in the warm-up, Romanian international Bogdan Lobont replacing him.

Stand-in CFR 1907 Cluj coach Alin Minteuan admitted his side’s primary aim against AS Roma was “not to lose”: “We got a draw which we worked very hard for, and again we suffered from not managing to convert chances. Maybe the result would have been a different one if we had kept our composure in front of goal. But in the end we achieved what we wanted – our main target for today: not to lose. I have faith in all of our players and I congratulate them for the way they played and for the result. We tried to impose our style of play today, but we did not manage to do so that often. It is true that a Romanian, [Roma goalkeeper] Bogdan Lobont, played his part in the draw, and the fact that we didn’t score more goals”, he said, quoted by uefa.com.

Giallorossi boss Claudio Ranieri missed the post-match press conference with a sore throat, but his assistant Christian Damiano branded Roma as the “golden underdogs” of knockout stage: “We did what we had to do: we qualified. That was an important target for us. Tonight’s draw was really important both for the team and the club. The home defeat against Basel made our path difficult in the Champions League, but the team’s response after that game was strong and we put in good displays in Switzerland, against Bayern and here at Cluj. Now I think we can be considered the golden underdogs of the tournament, as we can beat anyone over two legs. We still have to improve, though; we have conceded too many goals in the final minutes of our games. We have to stay focused until the final whistle”.
Other results in Champions League groups on Wednesday: Arsenal – Partizan 3-1; Bayern – Basel 3-0; Marseille – Chelsea 1-0; Zilina – Spartak Moscova 1-2; Real Madrid – Auxerre 4-0; AC Milan – Ajax 0-2; Shakhtar Donetsk – Braga 2 – 0.

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