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September 20, 2020

Europa League: CFR and Steaua seek salvation

Both Romanian teams FC Steaua Bucuresti and CFR Cluj will look to turn things around at home on Thursday night against AFC Ajax Amsterdam and Internazionale Milano respectively, trailing the UEFA Europa League final hosts 2-0 following the first leg of their round of 32 tie.Goals from defenders Toby Alderweireld (28) and Ricardo van Rhijn (48) set Ajax on the right path and to make matters worse for Steaua, Mihai Doru Pintilii was sent off in the closing stages.Steaua won their first three European home games this season without conceding before losing 5-1 to VfB Stuttgart in their most recent UEFA Europa League fixture in Bucharest.Ajax failed to secure a victory in three UEFA Champions League away games in the autumn, but have lost just once in their last eight UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League away ties, recording five victories in that run – including a 2-1 victory at Manchester United FC in last season’s round of 32.Ajax finished third in UEFA Champions League Group D in the autumn. They are appearing in the round of 32 for the fifth season in succession: they have progressed and been eliminated in alternate years since making it through to the round of 16 in 2008/09. If that pattern continues, they will go through this time.In his turn, CFR 1907 Cluj will look to end FC Internazionale Milano’s bid for a fourth success in this competition and overturn a 2-0 deficit in this UEFA Europa League round of 32 decider.Goals in either half from Rodrigo Palacio (20 87) gave Inter a win at San Siro, though a serious knee injury suffered by striker Diego Milito in the opening minutes overshadowed the contest.Inter have won their last three games in Romania without conceding.CFR are appearing in the spring leg of a major UEFA competition for the first time, having finished third in their UEFA Champions League group with an impressive ten points.

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