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Steaua get touch of luck to edge København

FC Steaua Bucureşti 1-0 FC København
The Romanian side finally found a way through seven minutes from time to break København's resistance and move to the top of Group E.

Steaua celebrate their late goal against FCK in Bucharest
Steaua celebrate their late goal against FCK in Bucharest ©Getty Images

FC Steaua Bucureşti went top of Group E after squeezing past FC København in the Romanian capital.

However, at the same National Arena which hosted last season's final, it took a large slice of luck for the Romanian First Division leaders to overcome their Danish counterparts in the battle for UEFA Europa League points. Their 83rd-minute goal from a Cristian Tănase cross-shot needed deflections off Kris Stadsgaard, Stefan Nikolić and, crucially, defender Ragnar Sigurdsson to find the net.

After a first-half stalemate, both Laurențiu Reghecampf in the Steaua dugout and København coach Ariël Jacobs could be confident this was a game either team could go on and win. The destiny of the match was still to be reshaped approaching the hour when, following a Paul Pîrvulescu surge, forward Nikolić was unable to make sufficient connection with his team-mate's pass to trouble keeper Johan Wiland.

At the other end, Andreas Cornelius looked set to turn in Thomas Kristensen's centre, only for Steaua defender Gabriel Matei to clear from inside his own six-metre box. Nicolai Jørgensen then nodded narrowly wide after Cornelius had cushioned the ball towards him with his head.

If anything, FCK appeared the more likely side, their midfield runners finding spaces between the Steaua lines. From one such raid, Cornelius brought a save from keeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu. The home crowd, meanwhile, had the encouragement of opportunities for Nikolić – a shot over the bar – and Raul Rusescu, a strike from distance.

The eventual breakthrough owed more to luck than to judgement. Tănase cut inside the København area from the right yet it was not the ensuing left-foot shot that finally beat Wiland but the pinball route it took to goal. In an attempt to clear, Stadsgaard got his head to the ball yet only succeeded in diverting it against first Nikolić, and then fellow defender Sigurdsson.

A near miss involving FCK substitute César Santin could not deny Steaua, who moved onto four points, one above their vanquished opponents.

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