By Paul-Daniel Zaharia at Ghencea stadium
FC Steaua Bucuresti got their UEFA Cup Group B campaign off to a fine start after second-half goals earned the side a 2-0 win at home against R. Standard de Liège.
Despite earnest attacking play from both teams, the game remained scoreless until Ivica Dragutinovic headed into his own net on 68 minutes in trying to clear Dorinel Munteanu's left-wing cross. With nine minutes remaining, and Standard pressing for an equaliser, Steaua's stand-in captain Adrian Neaga converted Sorin Paraschiv's cross from the opposing flank to make the game safe.
Neaga was wearing the armband because Mirel Radoi was out with a knee injury, while goalkeeper Vasili Khomutovski, Tiberiu Curt and Gabriel Bostina were also missing for Steaua. Standard had Wamberto and Sérgio Conceição sidelined and Jonathan Walasiak was only fit enough for the bench.
Despite the absence of so much attacking flair, Standard looked dangerous from the kick off. Sambegou Bangoura and Mohamed Tchite were a constant threat as Karel Geraerts looked to expose the languid pace of Steaua centre-backs Catalin Eugen Baciu and Sorin Ghionea.
But despite all the visitors' endeavour, it was Steaua who created the better chances, with Philippe Leonard almost forced to head into his own net following good work from Neaga and Daniel Oprita. The central defender quickly showed his poise though, producing a timely intervention to deny Oprita.
Standard regained their composure during the interval and began the second half in a much more threatening fashion, with Eric Deflandre's powerful cross causing problems for Romanian goalkeeper Martin Tudor.
However, with the game seemingly heading towards a draw, Dragutinovic scored the crucial own goal, before Neaga added a second as Steaua claimed the win. The Romanian side now travel to Italy on 4 November to face Parma FC, whom Standard then play host to three weeks later.
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