Romania will feature in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs after shrugging off the dismissal of Alexandru Ioniţă to earn a 0-0 stalemate with Russia which, pending official UEFA confirmation, ended their opponents' hopes.
The visitors began the day three points clear at the Group 1 summit having beaten Igor Kolyvanov's side 3-0 at home on Friday. Only a victory by the same scoreline in St Petersburg would have kept alive Russia's hopes of topping the section, buy any win would have proved enough to claim one of the four best runners-up spots; a draw meant they fell short.
Russia nonetheless started brightly enough and received a major fillip just 29 minutes in when Ioniţă was sent off for a second yellow card. Romania subsequently struggled to keep possession but stood firm in defence and restricted Russia to only a handful of clear opportunities.
Maksim Kanunnikov went as close as anyone to breaking the deadlock, only for his shot from outside the penalty area to be tipped over by Silviu Lung. Aleksei Ionov then chanced his arm from a free-kick, but Lung was again on hand to ensure his side take their place in Friday's play-off draw.
Kolyvanov said: "Despite the result, I think we showed a good level of football. Step by step we have become stronger. The setback against the Faroe Islands played a huge role in our qualifying campaign. We scored two or more goals in every subsequent match before those two games against Romania.
"We were unable to score as the Romania goalkeeper played really well and in at crucial moment we fell short. I think everyone saw that we created three or four clear chances. But it is very hard to win if you do not score. We have prepared for two years. We were at the top for a long time but the last two games blurred the picture."