Matteo Brighi scored twice in a clinical 3-1 victory in Transylvania to take AS Roma within touching distance of the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and extinguish any lingering chance CFR 1907 Cluj had of progressing.
CFR went into the game knowing only a victory would do, but with less than half an hour gone their hopes were hanging by a thread. Brighi opened the scoring with his first UEFA Champions League goal before Francesco Totti doubled Roma's lead with a wonderful free-kick. Any notions that CFR would buckle were dispelled seven minutes later when Yssouf Koné headed in from close range, but Brighi struck again after 64 minutes to put the result beyond doubt. The win took Luciano Spalletti's Roma into first place in Group A on nine points, one above Chelsea FC who were held by FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the other match.
CFR were quick off the mark, forcing three corners in as many minutes and coming close when Eugen Trică's shot was knocked over by Doni. Moments later they were even more threatening, Trică's neat pass setting up Koné whose rising drive was expertly tipped behind by the Roma keeper. But the visitors' first serious attack saw them grab the initiative after eleven minutes. Simone Perrotta beat Eduard Stăncioiu to the ball on the byline and lofted it over the stranded Cluj keeper for Brighi to stroke into an empty net.
The Romanian champions rallied and went agonisingly close to equalising after 18 minutes. Sebastián Dubarbier made a good run down the left and his low centre was turned just wide by Trică. Yet it was the Serie A side who struck again five minutes later. Gabriel Mureşan brought down Júlio Baptista approximately 25 metres from the Cluj goal, and Totti stepped up to smack the free-kick into the top left-hand corner, leaving Stăncioiu with no chance.
Koné hits back
Still Cluj came, however, and on the half-hour mark they got their reward. Doni could only parry Alvaro Pereira's low toe-poke into the path of Koné, who gleefully nodded in the loose ball. On 38 minutes it was almost all-square, but Koné shot just past the post after good build-up play by Juan Culio. Seconds later Rodrigo Taddei caused problems at the other end with a glancing header that bounced narrowly past Stăncioiu's left post. It was pulsating stuff, the perfect antidote to the bitterly cold night air.
Brighi doubles up
CFR immediately took the game to Roma after the restart, Koné heading Pereira's cross centimetres wide within 30 seconds of kick-off. Maurizio Trombetta's men continued to press, but found it increasingly difficult to fashion clear openings. And their task was made well-nigh impossible when the Italian team made it three after 64 minutes. Taddei played a short pass inside the box to Brighi, who controlled the ball quickly on the run and rifled it low beyond Stăncioiu. The hosts pushed on, yet Roma held firm and ended up comfortable victors. Defeat means CFR are sure to finish bottom of the section regardless of how they get on in their final match against Chelsea, while Roma will win the group should they beat Bordeaux.