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FC Steaua Bucuresti have returned to the UEFA Champions League group stage after a ten-year absence following a 2-1 win against R. Standard de Liège.
Having earned a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Belgium, the Romanian giants came from behind in front of 45,000 passionate fans at the Lia Manoliu stadium with Valentin Badea scoring twice to cancel out a second-minute opener from Standard's Milan Jovanović.
The Serbian striker caught the home side cold after a long free-kick was lofted into the Steaua area, driving home from ten metres. Vasilica Cristocea nearly equalised, missing the target when one-on-one with Standard goalkeeper Olivier Renard, before Jovanović was denied a second by a terrific Carlos Alberto Fernandes save with Sá Pinto heading the loose ball wide.
Badea had twice tested Renard in the first half before he found the target after 35 minutes, beating the goalkeeper with a low shot from just inside the penalty area. However, Standard were not disheartened. Carlos Alberto Fernandes did well to deny a Sá Pinto shot from range before Eugen Baciu cleared a terrific Marrouane Fellaini shot off the line.
However, Steaua upped the pace in the second half, and took the lead after 51 minutes. Banel Nicolita provided the pass for Badea to score with a second low shot. From then on, the home side shut up shop, and Standard rarely threatened although Cristocea and Florin Lovin carved out good chances for Steaua.
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