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September 28, 2020

Euro 2012: First victory for Romania, at last

Adrian Mutu’s first international goals since 2008 helped Romania seal a crucial victory against Luxembourg (3-1) that keeps alive their hopes of qualifying from Group D.

Romania kept their slim hopes alive by surviving a first-half scare and coming from behind to beat Luxembourg.

It has been a disappointing start to their qualifying campaign for Romania, and home coach Razvan Lucescu must have feared the worst when his side fell behind to Lars Gerson’s opening goal midway through the first half. Parity, however, was restored within two minutes by Adrian Mutu, who scored again on 68 minutes before Ianis Zicu made sure of the home win 12 minutes from time.

Romania’s sluggish start was epitomised by their insistence on using the long ball, rather than the creativity of Mutu, whose appearance in the 2-1 defeat by Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday was his first international outing since June 2008. That defeat made this a must-win match for the hosts, but their task became all the more difficult when, in the 22nd minute, Aurelien Joachim deflected Rene Peters’ free-kick from the left into the path of Gerson, who accepted the invitation to score.

Romania’s win leaves them fifth in the section with five points, seven adrift of leaders France and three behind second-placed Belarus.

After the match, Razvan Lucescu praised the team play and acknowledged the undisputed merit Mutu played in the game. “Mutu is the greatly talented player of the Romanian football, I knew that. He did his job, he got us into the game, again, yet, he did it with help from the other players as well. We need him, and his conduct was very good, of great professionalism,” Romania’s team coach told TVR1.

Despite their standing next to bottom in Group D, Lucescu remains hopeful: “We have five points under our belt, the most difficult matches played away are behind us. Each of the games to come will be like a final to us, starting with that against Bosnia, in June,” he said.

“We played reasonably well and, had we scored the goal no 2, they wouldn’t have had the drive to come from behind. I don’t think Romania stand a chance to qualify to the EURO,” Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz said.

Striker Adrian Mutu declared himself content with the outcome, yet, didn’t miss on the opportunity to take a veiled jab at coach Razvan Lucescu’s tactics in the Bosnia game. “I didn’t even hit the ball in Bosnia. We had no system in Bosnia, we just defended ourselves. Even if you sit on your butt in the goal, you can still lose. Out of respect for the public, we still need to believe we can qualify,” Mutu said.

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