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Roma hold off CFR to exact revenge

AS Roma 2-1 CFR 1907 Cluj
Two goals in quick succession got Roma off the mark in Group E, and helped make amends for their home loss to the same opponents in 2008.

Roma hold off CFR to exact revenge
Roma hold off CFR to exact revenge ©UEFA.com

AS Roma exercised the demons of two years ago and clinched their first victory in Group E by overcoming CFR 1907 Cluj courtesy of second-half strikes by Philippe Mexès and Marco Borriello.

CFR had inflicted a shock 2-1 defeat on the Giallorossi when they last met at the Stadio Olimpico two seasons ago, but the tables were turned as Roma won by the same scoreline. However, the Serie A side had their work cut out against Sorin Cârţu's side, who twice struck the woodwork through Lacina Traoré and pulled a goal back through Ionuţ Rada (78).

Juan Culio, who scored both of CFR's goals in their famous win, was involved early on again, supporting the visitors' numerous counterattacks and trying his luck with two wayward strikes from distance. Emil Dică also adopted a shoot-on-sight policy, blazing over after Daniele De Rossi had ceded possession, and firing wide from 40 metres following a mis-hit clearance by Bogdan Lobonţ.

Roma gradually began to gain a territorial foothold and David Pizarro led the way with a fierce shot that flew just wide, but it was CFR who should have taken the lead on the half-hour when Roma were surprised by another counter-punch. The pace of Lacina Traoré proved too much for Nicolás Burdisso, but with only Lobonţ to beat the Ivorian's shot crashed off the bar.

The near miss spurred Roma into life and in a furious final ten minutes of the half, CFR found themselves under siege. Menez warmed Nuno Claro's palms, before Mirko Vučinić was denied three times by the goalkeeper, his second effort teed up by De Rossi's clever chip. Next Francesco Totti saw both a curling shot and a free-kick thwarted by the impressive goalkeeper, while Menez and Cicinho drove wide.

It was still CFR, though, who appeared sharper in front of goal, and on 51 minutes Traoré's half-volley struck the post. But just as Roma looked to be losing their way they took the lead, Pizarro cutting a clever corner back to Mexès, who fired past Claro through a crowded penalty area in the 69th minute – the France defender's first goal in European football.

Roma's second came two minutes later and was even more direct, but Borriello showed great skill to volley De Rossi's hopeful ball into the far corner. Undaunted, the Romanian champions fought back and Rada's goal was the least they deserved, the midfielder rising to power Culio's free-kick past Lobonţ. Despite the best efforts of Dică and Cristian Panin, though, the hosts held out.

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