Holders Germany kicked off their UEFA European Championship defence in unconvincing style, forced to come from behind to earn a draw in a game offering a memorable contrast in styles.
Romania's bright start was rewarded on five minutes when they capitalised on a slip by Thomas Linke's failure to cut out a long ball. Adrian Ilie pounced, feeding Viorel Moldovan with a cute pass across the box that was dutifully turned in. Mehmet Scholl's stunning strike levelled matters before the half-hour, but while Germany came closest to a winner when Oliver Bierhoff struck the post, Romania could also have taken the Group A spoils.
Germany went into a game deafened by talk of their being a declining force, and their bid to silence their detractors could not have got off to a worse start. Yet there was scant opportunity to come to terms with Moldovan's goal – there was more defending to do. Gheorghe Hagi was at the heart of it, shaking off a groin problem to provide his unique experience and cunning.
The playmaker's sorcery was at the heart of two openings for Moldovan, both directed over, but after a knock his influence waned and the pattern of the game changed. Germany began to retain possession and get men forward. Bierhoff forced a fine reflex save from Bogdan Stelea but the keeper was taken by complete surprise four minutes later when Scholl ended a bout of patient passing with a fine swerving shot.
Erich Ribbeck replaced Linke at half-time with Marko Rehmer, and the newcomer was still trying to judge the pace of the game when he hesitated over a long ball and allowed Moldovan a clear sight of goal; Oliver Kahn turned his shot wide. Bierhoff then sent a header against a post before Germany had a remarkable double let-off. Under pressure from Ilie, Kahn failed to gather a lofted ball but first with his left foot, then his right, Moldovan failed to make it count.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.