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Newcomers CFR catch Roma cold

AS Roma 1-2 CFR 1907 Cluj
A goal in either half from Argentinian midfielder Juan Culio earned the debutants the perfect start to their Group A challenge and shocked Roma.

Juan Culio (centre) celebrates scoring in Rome
Juan Culio (centre) celebrates scoring in Rome ©Getty Images

Juan Culio wrote a little piece of UEFA Champions League history as his two goals gave CFR 1907 Cluj victory at AS Roma on their competition debut.

CFR delight
The Romanian side had only a UEFA Intertoto Cup final and UEFA Cup second qualifying round run to their name in Europe before tonight, but they are now major contenders in Group A after recovering from conceding an early Christian Panucci goal to take the points. Argentinian midfielder Juan Culio combined brilliantly with Eugen Trică to equalise on 27 minutes and volleyed the winner early in the second half, a stunning result for Italian coach Maurizio Trombetta in only his second game in charge of CFR.

Early test
Although Juan, Philippe Mexès and Simone Perrotta were out injured, Roma began like a team who had reached the last two quarter-finals rather than a side who are still searching for their first Serie A win of 2008/09. Striker Mirko Vučinić, only recently over a back problem, tested visiting goalkeeper Eduard Stăncioiu with a strong free-kick and was then unfortunate to turn the ball on to the post from close range.

Roma ahead
Within seconds Roma were ahead. Daniele De Rossi, having been declared fit after hurting his neck in Saturday's 3-1 loss to US Città di Palermo, showed determination to win the ball by the corner flag on the right and whipped in a perfect cross right that captain Panucci glanced past Stăncioiu. Now the Romanian champions were learning all about this competition, but it was a lesson they were taking in, and when Sebastián Dubarbier looped a shot on to the roof of the Roma net it was clear CFR were not intimidated by UEFA Champions League football.

Swift equaliser
So it was not out of the blue that they conjured up a superb equaliser ten minutes after falling behind. Juan Culio advanced at speed and fed Eugen Trică, who returned the ball with a calm back-heel flick. The Argentinian muscled past Rodrigo Taddei before sending a fizzing low shot past a helpless Doni. The visitors did not stop there, Yssouf Koné combining excellently with Dani but this time Doni was equal to the Portuguese striker's shot.

Second goal
Within four minutes of the restart, though, the Roma goalkeeper was picking the ball out of his net again when Trică looped in a cross from the right. Marco Cassetti beat Koné in the air but the ball fell neatly for Juan Culio to volley in with his left foot. Roma coach Luciano Spalletti promptly introduced Francesco Totti, still not quite match-fit after a long-term knee injury, although it was nearly 3-1 when Alin Minteuan curled a free-kick just wide. A Totti header was deflected just off target, rallying the Roma fans, and De Rossi let fly from distance but CFR were back in numbers and conceding little space.

Peralta hits bar
Sixto Peralta came on for Trică, and nearly settled matters as his effort bounced away off the bar before De Rossi again had a long-range strike that Stăncioiu was equali to once more. Vincenzo Montella also came on, but CFR were not about to let go of the points and will welcome Chelsea FC in a fortnight with high hopes.