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Steaua sink Legia to secure group stage return

Legia 2-2 Steaua (agg: 3-3, Steaua win on away goals)
The Romanian champions reached the group stage for the first time since 2008/09 thanks to Nicolae Stanciu and Federico Piovaccari's goals.

Steaua are in the group stage for the first time since 2008/09
Steaua are in the group stage for the first time since 2008/09 ©AFP/Getty Images

FC Steaua Bucureşti booked their place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since 2008/09 as a 2-2 draw in Poland ensured they edged out Legia Warszawa on the away-goals rule.

After a 1-1 draw in Romania last week, early goals in quick succession from Nicolae Stanciu and Federico Piovaccari at the Stadion Wojska Polskiego swung the tie decisively in Steaua's favour. Jan Urban's hosts replied through Miroslav Radović and Jakub Rzeźniczak but were unable to complete a comeback, meaning the Romanian champions head into Thursday's draw in Monaco.

With an away goal to their name Legia had reason to be confident of making the group stage for the first time in 18 years, but any advantage they had was swiftly erased as Stanciu put Steaua ahead in the tie after just seven minutes. Collecting Cristian Tănase's ball on the left of the area the No23 pirouetted clear of Radović before sweeping a right-footed shot into the far corner.

Things got better for Laurenţiu Reghecampf's men just two minutes later, as Italian forward Piovaccari was released on the right and he sent Dossa Júnior sprawling with a neat turn before tucking the ball calmly under Dušan Kuciak.

Now needing three goals, Legia fought to get back into the tie and Rzeźniczak powered a header over before Ciprian Tătăruşanu stretched to his left to keep out Jakub Kosecki's low shot. Urban's men gave themselves hope on 27 minutes as Radović thumped Jakub Wawrzyniak's cross into the net with his head, before Dominik Furman fizzed a long-range effort a fraction wide.

Cristian Tănase had the chance to restore Steaua's advantage moments before the break but drove wide, allowing Legia to crank up the pressure after the interval. The hosts set up camp outside the Steaua box but the visitors defended resolutely, with only headers from Dossa Júnior and Marek Saganowski causing moments of anxiety for Reghecampf. Legia tired allowing Adrian Popa and Lucian Filip opportunites they could not take, and although Rzeźniczak eventually drove in Legia's second goal in added time, it had come too late to influence the outcome. 

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