Roma secure last-16 spot
Roma qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League thanks to a 1-1 draw against CFR Cluj.
By Razwan Mirza
Last Updated: 09/12/10 11:23am
Roma qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League thanks to a 1-1 draw against CFR Cluj in Group E.
Claudio Ranieri's side secured the point they needed in Transylvania to qualify for the Round of 16 ahead of Basle.
Marco Borriello gave the Italian giants a deserved first-half lead thanks to a cool left-foot finish.
However, the hosts supreme work ethic paid off deep into the second half when they secured a point thanks to Lacina Traore's powerful header.
Cluj caretaker coach Alin Minteuan made a whole host of changes. He welcomed back Roberto De Zerbi and gave Emmanuel Kone his first Champions league start. Ionut Rada came into defence while Felice Piccolo was suspended.
Roma were without David Pizarro, Simone Perrotta and John Arne Riise due to injury so Ranieri shuffled his pack calling up Paolo Castellini and Fabio Simplicio with maverick striker Adriano having to settle for a place on the bench.
In a last-minute change, Romanian goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont replaced Julio Sergio after picking up a knock in the warm-up with fellow Brazilian Doni given a spot on the bench.
The hosts, wearing a Roma style kit won an early free-kick which Juan Culio swung over but Lobont dealt with the first bit of danger in the game by punching clear.
Francesco Totti was soon involved in the game as he won the visitors a free-kick from a dangerous position following Ionut Rada's crude challenge.
The enigmatic forward took aim from 30-yards, but could only fire his effort over the crossbar at a half empty Stadionul Dr. Constantin Radulescu.
At the other end Emmanuel Kone went on a surging run through the Roma defence but his weak left-foot strike was well scrambled by Lobon.
Although the Giallorossi had plenty of men behind the ball, they always looked dangerous on the counter-attack and after some good work by Marco Borriello, Paolo Castellini failed to make a firm connection with his through ball.
The visitors settled any nerves they might have had when they took the lead after 21 minutes.
Borriello raced onto Simplicio's sublime through ball to coolly slide home the ball into the far corner past Eduard Stancioiu's despairing dive.
The striker celebrated his 4th goal in six Champions League games for the capital giants.
Roma, who are 10 points adrift of Serie A leaders AC Milan soon went close to doubling their advantage as skipper Totti fired his second free-kick of the game well over the crossbar.
The Railwaymen then went close to restoring parity when Culio's pass found the run of Emil Dica down the left and although Lobont parried his shot, the winger had been flagged offside by the assistant on the far side.
Lobont made his second fine stop in a matter of minutes spreading himself superbly to deny Roberto De Zerbi what seemed a certain equaliser from point-blank range.
Roma looked well settled and were playing with plenty of confidence at the start of the second half.
And Nicolas Burdisso soon had Stancioiu at full stretch once again with a firm header.
The men in white were looking very assured in possession making the game look like a training ground exercise at times.
Cluj were content at hitting Roma on the counter-attack and they very nearly punished their opponents when Traore found De Zerbi's run, but the striker failed to keep his prodigious strike down, despite a worried look on the face of Lobont.
The hosts were pulled apart just after the hour mark and Borriello had the opportunity of bagging his second of the night but Stancioiu showed fine reflexes to palm away his left-foot shot.
Roma misses another glorious chance moments later as Borriello picked out Totti on the edge of the box, but the skipper dragged his right-footed effort wide of goal.
Huge gaps started appearing on the field with 15 minutes remaining and with the game stretched, Traore started receiving jeers of derision from the home supporters for constantly giving the ball away.
The 6ft 8in striker was having a personal nightmare as he missed another presentable opportunity from Culio's right-wing cross.
However, Traore didn't give in and the striker deservedly levelled matters with just two minutes of the game remaining.
Culio was the instigator once again digging out a delicate right-footed cross which was buried by the towering Ivorian, who celebrated his goal by signalling a firm fist to the home supporters.Bayern Munich's comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Basle meant the Italians had done enough by securing a point in Romania to progress to the knockout round as runners-up.
|CFR Cluj||Team Statistics||Roma|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||6|
|6||Shots off Target||9|