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Sober Unirea tee up Stuttgart settler

A 1-0 win against Sevilla FC means FC Unirea Urziceni can reach the last 16 with a point at VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 6, but Vasile Maftei said: "We have to be realistic. We have only won a match."

Unirea's Ersin Mehmedović and Vasile Maftei (right) shackle Sevilla's Frédéric Kanouté
Unirea's Ersin Mehmedović and Vasile Maftei (right) shackle Sevilla's Frédéric Kanouté ©Getty Images

Jubilant FC Unirea Urziceni players had to temper their celebrations after their first home victory in European competition because they know the true prize has still to be secured, with qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout phase coming down to a set-to with VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 6.

Historic opportunity
No Romanian team has advanced beyond the group stage before and forward Marius Bilasco told "We will play in Stuttgart to qualify and we will see if we can write history for Romanian football. We are happy but we can not be happy enough because we have not yet qualified for the knockout stage. We have to play our last card in Stuttgart." Praising his team's "ambition and total commitment", Bilasco said it was a game that proved it was not always the team who had the better possession and the most chances who emerges on top in the end.

Whip hand
At least the 1-0 victory over Sevilla FC will ensure that Dan Petrescu's team travel to Germany with their confidence high. Fortune may have been an ally as they inflicted a rare defeat on the Spanish team via an own goal but they then protected their advantage with the utmost commitment and tenacity. Unirea could still even win the group should they beat Stuttgart and Sevilla, who are assured of a qualifying place, lose to Rangers FC in two weeks' time but second place is well within their grasp as they continue to hold a two-point advantage over Stuttgart.

Modest assessment
Ivica Dragutinović's own goal arrived near the end of a first half in which Sevilla had twice struck the woodwork through Frédéric Kanouté and Álvaro Negredo. Unirea were under more pressure after the break and one of the four yellow cards they received on a tense night rules experienced defender Vasile Maftei out of the Stuttgart game. "We have to be realistic," Maftei said. "We have only won a match. Sevilla compete on the same level as Real Madrid and Barcelona and cannot be underestimated. We played very well and we also had some luck. Everybody expected us to lose but we won and we now have confidence that we might qualify in Stuttgart."

Zokora insight
Didier Zokora blamed Sevilla's first defeat in Group G on Unirea's greater motivation. "When you have ten points and a draw is enough you are not so motivated but the Romanians needed these points and it's a pity for us," said the midfielder, who went on to agree with Bilasco: "Possession and plenty of passes are characteristics of Spanish football but this game showed it's not always the case that when you have more of the ball you win the game."