Having earned Romania a first win against the Netherlands, defender Dorin Goian thanked his wife who told him "several times" that he would score on Saturday.
Overcome with joy
Amid heavy rain and a powerful wind in Constanta, the FC Steaua Bucureşti centre back scored the only goal of the game between the top sides in Group G after 71 minutes to push Romania closer to the finals of UEFA EURO 2008™. "It's the most important goal of my life," he said. "Before the match my wife told me several times that I would score against the Netherlands. I thank her for her support and I don't feel any pain from the knocks I received in this match because I am so happy."
Romania had never previously beaten the Netherlands, and their two 2-0 defeats against the Dutch in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers remain the only competitive losses in coach Victor Piturca's two spells in charge of the national team. Between 1998 and 1999, Piturca earned Romania a place in the finals of UEFA EURO 2000™ - their last major tournament appearance - but was sacked before the finals. Now he is eager to lead his side through qualifying without defeat again.
"My aim is to finish these qualifiers without defeat and, if possible, as group winners," he said. "We had some luck in this match, but fortune favours the strongest and the best. Today, we were stronger and better. After this victory our national team will be stronger as every time we beat a top-class opponent we play better and better - that was the case after we beat the Czech Republic [2-0] in the autumn of 2005 and Spain [1-0 in Cadiz] last November."
Romania earned a 0-0 draw in their first UEFA EURO 2008™ meeting with the Netherlands in Rotterdam and Saturday's win has left them three points clear at the top of the section with three games to go. A victory against Luxembourg on Wednesday might now send them to the finals with two games to spare, provided that third-placed Bulgaria drop points in their game in Albania.
However, Piturca urged his side to concentrate on their own game rather than hoping things would go their way in Tirana. "Everybody says our match will be easy but it won't - Luxembourg won in Belarus on Saturday and we will have some players missing." Yellow cards against the Netherlands mean Adrian Mutu, Paul Codrea and Banel Nicoliţă are suspended with Danut Coman, Cosmin Contra, Laurentiu Rosu, Mirel Radoi and Razvan Cocis already absent through injury. PFC CSKA Sofia right-sided midfielder Florentin Petre has been added to the squad to make up the numbers.
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