Sevilla sink stubborn Steaua
Fredi Kanoute and Luis Fabiano were on target as Sevilla recorded a 2-1 home victory over Steaua Bucharest.
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 23/10/07 11:01pm
Fredi Kanoute and Luis Fabiano were on target as Sevilla recorded a 2-1 home victory over Steaua Bucharest which puts them in command of the second qualifying spot in Group H.
The Spaniards appeared to be cruising towards a routine win as their strike duo both netted within the first 17 minutes to send them in at the interval two goals to the good.
But, to their credit, Steaua regrouped at the break and gave the Uefa Cup holders a distinctly less comfortable second period with Marin Petre pulling a goal back on 63 minutes.
However an equaliser was not forthcoming and, in all truth, would have flattered the visitors, with Sevilla ultimately unfortunate not to add to their total - it mattered not, though, with the Spaniards now in pole position to progress with Arsenal.
The hosts moved ahead with their first meaningful attack and, serving notice of what was to be an eye-catching display, it was youngster Diego Capel who was the architect of the goal.
The exciting left-winger was released by an accurate ball from Seydou Keita and effortlessly cut outside Dorin Goian before delivering a pin-point cross that simply begged Kanoute to nod it home - the Mali international did so with the minimum of fuss for his tenth goal in 12 games this season.
Capel on song
Capel proceeded to run Steaua ragged down their right flank with his industry creating a couple of chances for Jesus Navas.
Christian Poulsen went close with a rasping 25-yarder before Juande Ramos' side increased their lead when Fabiano raced on to a Dani Alves' pass intended for Kanoute, rounded keeper Robinson Zapata and fired home despite the best efforts of Ifeany Emeghara on the line.
Steaua's first-half threat was confined to a low strike from Petre which ensured Palop in the home goal was still awake, but Sevilla could have extended their cushion with Keita rocking a post from long-range and Navas toe-poking wide after more fine work from Capel.
Fabiano almost guided a wildly miscued Alves free-kick into the bottom corner minutes into the second half, but Sevilla were given a rude awakening as an improved Steaua got themselves a foothold just past the hour mark.
Lone frontman Constantin Iacob latched on to Banel Nicolita's through ball and, although Aquivaldo Mosquera managed to block his attempted shot, it fell kindly for the onrushing Petre who dinked past Palop.
The goal certainly served to rouse the visitors and ensured much of Sevilla's swagger disappeared, although the Spaniards were rightly less than amused when their appeals for a penalty were waved away after a quite blatent handball by Ionut Rada.
The home side spurned presentable chances to quell the growing sense of unease at the Sanchez Pizjuan, but while the one-goal cushion was less than comfortable Steaua did little to suggest a damaging second would follow.
Indeed, in the end the Romanians were grateful to Zapata that the score ended 2-1 with Fabiano and Navas both denied by fine saves in the final moments.