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CFR weather storm to sink Slovan Liberec

FC Slovan Liberec 1-2 CFR 1907 Cluj (agg: 1-3)
The Romanian champions' away win moved them one step away from their third UEFA Champions League group stage participation in five seasons.

CFR's Modou Sougou evades the challenge of Tomáš Janů of Liberec
CFR's Modou Sougou evades the challenge of Tomáš Janů of Liberec ©Jaroslav Appeltauer

CFR 1907 Cluj picked up a close-run 2-1 win at FC Slovan Liberec to add to their one-goal advantage from the first leg and secure a UEFA Champions League play-off place.

Group stage participants in 2008/09 and 2010/11, CFR are now one step away from their third tilt at Europe's elite competition after Pantelis Kapetanos (46) and Modou Sougou (94) scored either side of Josef Šural's effort (58) for the hosts.

The visitors relied on their first-leg lead from the outset, playing on the counter and putting up an organised and resilient defensive line. Indeed Liberec found their way through just once in the first period, with Michal Breznaník's 26th-minute effort forcing a save from CFR goalkeeper Mário Felgueiras. No other clear-cut chances arrived for either side until, in added time of the first half, Ioan Andone's side took the lead when Rafael Bastos crossed for Capetanos to power in a precise header.

A determined Liberec refused to roll over, however, and pulled themselves level on the night in the 58th minute, as Lukáš Vácha's long pass found Josef Šural, who fired in a low leveller. Felgueiras was tested several more times as Liberec pressed hard to tie up the aggregate scores, and substitute Yevhen Morozenko watched his deflected shot hit the post on 77 minutes. However, CFR weathered the storm and grabbed an away win in the fourth minute of added time, Viorel Nicoară's low cross from the left picking out Sougou, who beat David Bičík in the Slovan goal.

"We knew it would be different to the game in Cluj, where we had a lot of chances," said Andone after the match. "We also knew a 1-0 lead was tricky. I admit we were lucky at times, but altogether we were the better side and deserved to win. Now we are ready to fight with all our efforts in the final step."