FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti may be closer to the group stage than at any other time but, after a 1-1 draw at S.S. Lazio, all concerned say the job is only half done.
FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti may be closer this morning to the UEFA Champions League than at any other time in their history but no one is taking anything for granted.
The Romanian champions earned a 1-1 draw against S.S. Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico last night to give them real hope of finishing the job at home. Goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont performed superbly while Ionel Danciulescu's first-half header gave Mircea Rednic's side a precious away goal to defend at Lia Manoliu Stadium on 28 August. The veteran defender Valentin Nastase has just returned from a five-year spell in Italy and knows better than most the magnitude of the performance. "We have proved that we can play in the group stage," he said.
Despite his personal heroics, striker Danciulescu was urging caution. "We must not get into party mood because of this draw," he said. "We will have to be intelligent. The draw is very good for us but there is still a very difficult match to be played. We need our fans and we want the stadium to be sold out for the second leg. We can only qualify with the help of our fans." Dinamo finished the game with ten men after the late dismissal of Lucian Goian, although by that time Lazio were down to nine having seen Massimo Mutarelli, scorer of their equaliser, and Valon Behrami sent off.
While all three will be absent for the return, Dinamo are also worried about the fitness of Ianis Zicu and Nastase, with both having picked up knocks. Rednic's concerns extend beyond player selection though with the pessimistic coach unhappy about the amount of times Lobont was forced to save his team – not least from a 36th-minute penalty by Tommaso Rocchi. "Even if we played against a very strong opponent, I am not at all satisfied with the way we played or with the result," he said. "Let's not forget that the Italians had plenty of opportunities because of big mistakes made by our players."
In acknowledging his side’s relative lack of experience at this level, Rednic felt they had spurned a chance to take a stranglehold on the tie, saying: "We should have forced the victory after Lazio played with one man less. We did not manage this and Lazio, who are a great team, will give us big problems in Bucharest. We missed a great opportunity and in the second leg we will have to start from zero and forget the match played in Rome. We won, I might say, a battle, but winning the war is so far away."
Lazio coach Delio Rossi will be telling his players just that before the second leg, claiming "we were really unlucky" to lose - especially with injuries to Emilson Cribari, Giglielmo Stendardo, Stefano Mauri and Aleksandar Kolarov. Cribari will have surgery on a fractured cheekbone today while the other three face tests. Rossi added: "I know my players have done all they could, because they know how much this means. We haven’t lost yet. We still have a 50 per cent chance to win and enter the group stage. My players did a good job but they were really unlucky. Dinamo have defended without attacking."