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Steaua steel restricts Southampton

Published: Wednesday 24 September 2003, 22.35CET
Southampton FC 1-1 FC Steaua Bucuresti Steaua show their defensive mettle to hold English hosts.
Published: Wednesday 24 September 2003, 22.35CET

Steaua steel restricts Southampton

Southampton FC 1-1 FC Steaua Bucuresti Steaua show their defensive mettle to hold English hosts.

FC Steaua Bucuresti showed the defensive mettle that has kept them unbeaten at the top of the Romanian First Division this season as they secured a 1-1 draw at Southampton FC.

Goal apiece
Steaua, European Champion Clubs' Cup winners in 1986, when a team featuring current coach Victor Piturca defeated FC Barcelona in a penalty shoot-out, took a first-half lead through Claudiu Raducanu - but Kevin Phillips scored a goal soon after the break to level the tie.

Impressive visitors
The visitors' European pedigree was soon apparent as they gave Southampton a footballing lesson early in the first half, home goalkeeper Paul Jones having to save from striker Raducanu as early as the third minute.

Looping header
Daniel Oprita, the other half of Steaua's forward line, went narrowly wide with a looping header soon afterwards. Gordon Strachan's team, restricted to a Phillips effort from 20 metres, looked bewildered and it came as no surprise when the visitors took the lead.

Visitors in front
The impressive Marian Aliuta fed Florentin Dumitru down the right flank. As he shaped to cross, Raducanu showed why he was last season's top scorer in the Romanian top-flight by peeling away from his marker before heading Dumitru's delivery past Jones.

Largely restricted
Southampton, fourth in the Premiership after an unbeaten start to the season, were unable to match the Romanians' passing and movement and found themselves largely restricted to shooting from distance.

Goalkeeper parries
The home team did go close when Michael Svensson met a Matthew Oakley cross after 36 minutes and, just before the half-time whistle, a close-range Phillips shot was parried by goalkeeper Vasili Hamutovski.

Equaliser arrives
Fittingly, the always-lively Phillips brought Southampton level six minutes after half-time, beating Valeriu Rachita to Chris Marsden's pass and clipping the ball past Hamutovski.

Beattie shot smothered
Southampton were showing more urgency and could have gone ahead through a Claus Lundekvam header soon after the equaliser. English international James Beattie, keen to impress against credible European opponents, saw his turn and shot smothered by Hamutovski.

Substitute makes his mark
Strachan, who won the won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen FC in 1983 but was coaching for the first time in European competition, replaced the tiring Marsden with Neil McCann. The new man was quickly effective, crossing for Michael Svensson, whose header was not far over.

Fine tackle
However, it continued to be a case of near misses as the wily visitors closed ranks and kept Strachan's men at bay. Phillips was denied twice more, first heading a Graham Le Saux corner wide and then being stopped in his tracks by a fine tackle from Dorel Mutica.

Steaua hold out
But Phillips had had his moment and, despite more than five minutes' added time, the Romanian side's defence held out to give Steaua the away-goal edge ahead of the return on 15 October.

Last updated: 25/09/03 10.31CET