Romania ease to Russia win
Daniel and Marius Niculae both came off the bench to score in Romania's 3-0 friendly win over Russia.
Last Updated: 28/03/08 2:31pm
Daniel and Marius Niculae both came off the bench to score in Romania's 3-0 friendly win over Russia. in Bucharest.
Marius Niculae has enjoyed a new lease of life with Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle this season and was rewarded with a recall to the national team following a two-year absence.
He came on with Romania leading 1-0 at half-time before Daniel Niculae scored in the 60th minute before Marius netted 15 minutes from time to force himself into Euro 2008 contention.
Russia were playing their first game for four months after sealing their qualification for this summer's finals and coach Guus Hiddink handed debuts to Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Roman Shirokov and FC Moscow forward Roman Adamov.
Romania's Mirel Radoi (knee) returned after a seven-month absence while Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev (knee) was back from a year out, but just a minute before the break Stuttgart striker Ciprian Marica beat the CSKA Moscow keeper to give Romania the lead.
Romania coach Victor Piturca then gave Marica a breather with Cristian Chivu and Adrian Mutu, who have just returned from injury, also being replaced at half-time.
Nicolae Dica and the Niculae duo came into the fray for the second half, and Daniel Niculae struck on the hour mark to put the hosts in control.
Hiddink then gave Roman Pavlyuchenko and Dmitri Sychev a chance to impress off the bench with regular strikers Andrei Arshavin and Aleksandr Kerzhakov left out.
But Marius Niculae beat Akinfeev again in the 75th minute to cap a memorable evening for Romania, who have been drawn against France, Holland and Italy for Euro 2008 in Group C, while Russia will face holders Greece, Spain and Sweden in Group D.