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Ger - Rom (1-1)
Por - Eng (3-2)
Romania and Portugal both qualified for Euro 2000 from Group 7.
While all the media attention seems to be on
the England - Germany match -- a game by a bunch of old boys still harping on about scores
to settle -- this is the one that could decide England's fate.
Romania won in Portugal in
October 1988 and drew 1-1 at home in September of last year, to qualify as group leaders;
without losing a single game out of ten matches.
Although Portugal finished runner-up, they
didn't need a play-off as they had the best record out of all the 2nd placed teams in the
Romania plan to man-mark Luis
Figo but, having studied the Portuguese in qualifying, they will also know all about the
dangers posed by Rui Costa and Joao Pinto (who may be going to Chelsea). They would
certainly have noted the steely determination the Portuguese showed in getting back into
the game against England, and the way they closed the game once they took the lead.
Romania can not afford to let the Portuguese get in front.
If this game is a draw, England can do what
they like against Germany. Romania will fancy their chances to repeat their success
against England in France two years ago; when Petrescu dampened Michael Owen's glory of
being the youngest English goalscorer in the World Cup finals, with a bustled goal between
David Seaman and his defender on the last minute of normal time. The game ended 2-1 to
Romania; Moldovan having scored the first goal just after half-time.
4-Iulian Filipescu, 6-Gheorghe Popescu, 13-Cristian Chivu, 22-Cosmin Contra
2-Dan Petrescu, 5-Constantin Galca, 8-Dorinel Munteanu, 10-Gheorghe Hagi
9-Viorel Moldovan, 11-Adrian Ilie
2-Jorge Costa, 5-Fernando Couto, 13-Xavier Dimas, 20-Carlos Secretario
4-Jose Vidigal, 7-Luis Figo, 10-Manuel Rui Costa, 17-Paulo Bento
8-Joao Pinto, 21-Nuno Gomes
Referee: Gilles Veissiere
The first-half of the Romania -- Portugal encounter won't go down as one of the most
memorable in Euro2000 history.
After a slow start, Luis Figo showed spurts of
what he can do, running at three Romanians on the left and putting the ball through
Popescu's legs, before falling into the defender as he turned to chase the ball.
It was 10 minutes before the Portuguese
goalkeeper, Vitor Baia, even had a touch of the ball; a Hagi left-foot cross.
Just after the quarter-hour, Hagi received his
second yellow card of the tournament; which eliminates him from the encounter with
The closest chance for the Romanians came in
the 25th minute. Illie's free kick, destined for the top right corner, was palmed away by
The Romanians played the offside trap well and
countered effectively. Some of the passes looked too casual and possession was easily lost
by both teams.
Both teams cancelled each other out so well that it got to the stage they were walking;
sparring with each other; teasing and waiting for an opportunity to strike.
This wasn't the Portugal we saw against
England but they adapted well to the Romanians who seemed happy to settle for a draw. A
draw would have left the group wide open going in to the final games, assuming England won
against Germany. Swift calculations and tactical changes from both sides.
Was the Romanian coach trying something new or
resting Moldovan, Petrescu and Illie for the England encounter; which they would need to
win again -- without Hagi.
It looked like both of these teams would be
happy with a draw. Romania thinking that they could beat England again. And if Portugal
were to win or draw with the Germans, the two teams from group seven would go through to
Portugal had previously made a double
substitution in the 56th minute: Sa Pinto on for Gomes and Conceicao for Joao Pinto.
minutes to go, the game had stalemate written all over it.
The Romanians might have been happy with a
point to stay unbeaten, but if England were to beat Germany, Germany would need to beat
Portugal, then both of these teams heading for 0-0 would go out. That was the speculation,
and counter speculation.
Five minutes from time, Hagi almost scored. A
dipping shot from the corner of the area just tipped over the bar for a corner by Vitor
We were into the last minute of the four
minutes added on for stoppages when Figo took the last free-kick for Portugal, taking his
time to get it right.
Costinha had replaced Rui
Costa four minutes from the end of normal time and as the ball floated over the crowded
area, the tall substitute jumped to meet the ball; heading his country into the
quarter-finals in the bargain.
Romania's tactics had back-fired.
Romania 0 -- Portugal 1
Man of the Match:
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