A Viorel Moldovan strike earned AFC Rapid Bucuresti a 1-1 draw in the home leg of their UEFA Cup quarter-final derby against FC Steaua Bucuresti, though Razvan Lucescu's side may rue conceding an early goal.
George Ogararu had already tried his luck from distance for Steaua before the home team were caught cold at the Giulesti stadium on five minutes. Daniel Oprita broke down the right and whipped in a dangerous cross that Banel Nicolita lashed beyond Rapid goalkeeper Danut Coman from ten metres.
Rapid nearly equalised four minutes later as Daniel Niculae headed against the post from a Ionut Stancu corner, and Marius Constantin then tested Steaua custodian Carlos Alberto Fernandes with a long-range effort. However, Rapid were lucky not to be two goals down when Andrei Cristea missed the target from five metres after Coman could only parry Nicolae Dica's shot.
Moldovan finally eased Rapid's nerves five minutes into the second period as he plundered an equaliser. Emil Dica drove a dangerous ball across the Steaua area which Portuguese keeper Fernandes failed to hold on to, allowing the forward to steer home.
Soon after, Rapid almost went ahead as Dica's attempt was saved by Fernandes, and in the 76th minute Rapid substitute Lucian Burdujan fired wide from inside the box before his close-range effort was blocked by Dorin Goian as Steaua resisted for a valuable draw.
Lucescu will take comfort from the fact none of the ten Rapid players who are one booking away from a ban picked up the caution that would have ruled them out of the second leg. However, Steaua have no new suspensions either, and will be boosted by the return of midfielder Gabriel Bostina next Thursday.
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