Goals at the beginning and end of the second half earned Romania a 2-0 win at home to Bosnia-Herzegovina that revived their hopes of qualifying from UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 2.
Tight at the top
The win moved Anghel Iordanescu's side to within one point of the top of the table following Denmark's 1-0 win against Norway, and means that just a single point separates the top three sides. Romania have nine points from their five games so far, and next face second-placed Norway away on Wednesday. Bosnia's hopes, meanwhile, suffered a setback with this result, and Blaz Sliškovic's team must wait until September for the chance to repair the damage when they face Norway.
The first half was a tight affair, with the best chance falling to Ioan Ganea after two minutes, but the VfB Stuttgart striker was unable to find the target. The away side quickly responded through midfield player Mirko Hrgovic whose volley forced a fine save from Bogdan Lobont five minutes later.
Romania made the breakthrough 20 seconds into the second period as Parma AC striker Adrian Mutu, who was a threat throughout, took advantage of some poor defending to open the scoring. The goal forced the visitors to abandon their defensive style and push forward in search of an equaliser, and Romania exploited the extra space in the closing stages as Ganea scored the second goal two minutes from time with a long-range lob.
'Job half done'
Iordanescu was pleased with his side's win, but insisted that the Norway game would be the real test. "We played as if our lives depended on it, but we got three points to accomplish half of our task over the next few days," he said. "In the first half we were unable to play our normal game because of the heat and our opponents. Under such circumstances, this was a hard-fought victory. However, the most difficult part is just beginning."
'We came for a point'
His opposite number Sliškovic was in philosophical mood after the game. "We came here for a point and were close to achieving that but, unfortunately, we failed to get a goal in the early stages," he said. "The game was heading towards a 0-0 draw but we made a defensive error and allowed Romania to open the scoring. Before the match I told my players that Adrian Mutu and Ioan Ganea needed to be marked very tightly and they were not. Romania were better than us in the final part of the match."