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CFR eye progress from bottom place

Despite successive defeats which have put CFR 1907 Cluj at the foot of Group A, the Romanian debutants can still believe in their qualifying prospects and a victory against a resurgent AS Roma could take them into second place.

Successive defeats have given CFR coach Maurizio Trombetta plenty to ponder
Successive defeats have given CFR coach Maurizio Trombetta plenty to ponder ©Getty Images

Successive defeats have taken the shine off CFR 1907 Cluj's debut campaign in the UEFA Champions League and left them at the foot of Group A with two matches remaining. Their four points mean they still retain qualifying prospects, however, and they will be looking to improve their position with a home game against AS Roma.

• The return fixture with the Italian club may inspire CFR to regain their best form because at the Stadio Olimpico they registered what is likely to remain one of the most surprising results of the current tournament. On 16 September their new Italian coach Maurizio Trombetta saw the Romanian champions fall behind to Christian Panucci's early goal only to stun the home crowd with the force of their comeback. Argentinian midfielder Juan Culio equalised on 27 minutes before volleying the winner early in the second half.

• When CFR then held Chelsea FC to a 0-0 draw at home they began to think the possibility of going through to the knockout stage was not such a fanciful prospect. However their back-to-back matches with FC Girondins de Bordeaux provided a reality check.

• CFR first lost 1-0 in France when an own goal by their captain Cadú early in the second half divided the teams. In the home game two weeks later, CFR fell behind to Yoann Gourcuff's sixth-minute strike. Dani quickly equalised but Wendel's 38th-minute free-kick put the visitors on top once more and that proved enough for victory, Matthieu Valverde pulling off brilliant second-half stops from Sixto Peralta and Sebastián Dubarbier to safeguard the points. The defeat sent CFR tumbling from second place to fourth, but a Matchday 5 win could put them clear in second place should Chelsea take three points in Bordeaux.

• Roma put their surprise opening loss behind them on Matchday 2 with a 3-1 victory against Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. When Gourcuff shot the home side ahead more disappointment appeared to lie in store for the Giallorossi but Henrique's 36th-minute dismissal hit the home team hard and with two strikes in seven minutes, from Mirko Vučinić and substitute Júlio Baptista, Roma turned the contest around. Baptista completed the victory with his second late on.

• Luciano Spalletti's team then faced two games with Chelsea, a daunting prospect considering that their poor domestic form was damaging confidence. For 76 minutes they performed on equal terms at Stamford Bridge with last season's runners-up before John Terry's glancing header settled the issue in favour of the home side.

• Two weeks later Roma really rose to the occasion, defeating Luiz Felipe Scolari's team 3-1 to reinvigorate their qualifying hopes. A first-half goal from former Chelsea defender Panucci edged the hosts ahead and with two stunning Vučinić strikes, Roma established an unassailable lead. Chelsea gained some consolation with Terry's second goal in successive UEFA Champions League games but Deco's late dismissal capped a disappointing night for the London club. It left last season's Serie A runners-up on six points; should they win in Romania and the Bordeaux-Chelsea game ends in a draw, then they would go clear in first place.

• Before this season's first game in the Italian capital, Roma had faced a team from Romania just once before, in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round when their opponents were FC Steaua Bucureşti. Roma followed up a 1-0 win in the home leg with a 0-0 draw away. CFR, meanwhile, have never previously played host to Italian opposition; indeed, that Matchday 1 win in Roma was their first encounter with a Serie A side in UEFA club competition.