Romania kept their slim hopes of qualifying for UEFA EURO 2012 alive by surviving a first-half scare and coming from behind to beat Luxembourg.
It has been a disappointing start to their qualifying campaign for Romania, and home coach Razvan Lucescu must have feared the worst when his side fell behind to Lars Gerson's opening goal midway through the first half. Parity, however, was restored within two minutes by Adrian Mutu, who scored again on 68 minutes before Ianis Zicu made sure of the home win 12 minutes from time.
Romania's sluggish start was epitomised by their insistence on using the long ball, rather than the creativity of Mutu, whose appearance in the 2-1 defeat by Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday was his first international outing since June 2008. That defeat made this a must-win match for the hosts, but their task became all the more difficult when, in the 22nd minute, Aurélien Joachim deflected René Peters' free-kick from the left into the path of Gerson, who accepted the invitation to score.
Luxembourg's lead did not last long, however. Just 120 seconds later in fact, the match was all square as Mutu latched on to Ciprian Marica's delightful pass to score his first goal since registering at UEFA EURO 2008 against Italy. With Luc Holtz's side sitting back and looking to catch their opponents on the break, the onus was on the home team to make the running but they were frustrated by their visitors until Mutu struck again.
The 32-year-old was unlucky not to score with a fine volley that whistled just wide on 58 minutes but the ACF Fiorentina forward did not have long to wait for his 31st international goal on his 69th appearance, beating Jonathan Joubert with a fine header from substitute Gabriel Torje's right-wing cross. Ten minutes later it was 3-1, again from a header, as Zicu reacted first from close range to a poor headed clearance. Romania's win leaves them fifth in the section with five points, seven adrift of leaders France and three behind second-placed Belarus.