World Cup Group G
Petrescu grabs late winner against England
Romania secured their place in the second round of the World Cup finals on Monday with a last minute 2-1 victory over England in a thrilling World Cup group G clash.
A goal in the 90th minute by Dan Petrescu, the attacking wing-back signed by England coach Glenn Hoddle when he was manager of Chelsea, clinched Romania their victory and maintained their fine recent World Cup record.
Chasing a long pass into the left
side of the penalty area, he held off a
challenge from his Chelsea club mate Graeme Le Saux and then steered a low shot between the legs of advancing goalkeeper David Seaman.
The goal -- his 12th for his country
-- came at the end of a dramatic,
roller-coaster of a match which produced two goals in the final six
minutes and almost saw England draw level again with seconds remaining.
After Petrescu had scored, England
substitute Michael Owen, who had scrambled an equalizer six minutes earlier
following Viorel Moldovan's
47th minute opener, hit the post and then beat the ground with his fists.
His frustration was felt throughout the England side, who refused to give up until the final whistle.
When it did go, England were crestfallen and Romania exultant. Their players celebrated by diving on the grass in front of their fans while Hoddle complained that "schoolboy" defensive errors had cost his team the match.
"It was going to be a stalemate, a bit like a chess game, until we gave away those two terrible goals," he said. "Defensively, they were dreadful goals to concede. At this level, if you defend like that, you get punished."
The result ensured Romania, whose rotating players often left England chasing shadows, reached the second round for the third successive finals. It also brought long-awaited revenge for their 1-0 defeat by England in Mexico in 1970 in their only previous World Cup finals meeting.
England played a full part in the dramas, but Romania demonstrated superior individual technique and more inventive tactics.
"In the second half we saw a high-quality game from both sides but our technical ability and tactical intelligence made the difference," Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu said.
Romania also had, in veteran midfielder Gheorghe Hagi and striker Adrian Ilie, the two most menacing and skilful players on the pitch. But Owen, in only 16 minutes, showed he had the potential to be a match-winner for England.
Roared on by their army of supporters, England had the best of the first half during which a hooked shot by Teddy Sheringham bounced wide and Ilie hit the bar.
But after losing defensive midfielder Paul Ince with a twisted ankle after 32 minutes, they conceded the initiative. His replacement, David Beckham, was unable to subdue Hagi while Paul Scholes was closely marked by Constantin Galca.
Romania took control and the lead early in the second half when Hagi flicked on a throw in for Moldovan, who also plays in England at Coventry City, to evade Tony Adams easily and fire home his 13th goal for his country.
It seemed to be enough when a cross
shot by Darren Anderton bounced agonizingly wide for England. But Owen's
introduction for Sheringham revitalized their attack and he rammed the
ball home in a scramble following an 83rd minute cross by Alan Shearer
to spark the final dramas.
Hagi (Stinga 73') (Marinescu 84')
Moldovan (Lacatus 87')
Ince (Beckham 33')
Sheringham (Owen 73')
Referee: M Batta (France)
It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Dan Petrescu, the Chelsea wing-back who Glenn Hoddle has described as the best in England crept in front of his club-mate Graeme Le Saux, and the ball trickeled across the goal line.
England had already worked hard to get back into the game. Another striker based in England, Viorel Moldovan of Coventry managed to battle into the box, and when a cross was too high for Adams, he opened the scoring for the Group G seeds.
England had been on top for the first
half, with Romania's chances limited
to just long-range shots, the best of which fell to Hagi, he had two
opportunities from just outside the box, but neither of them troubled David
England on the other hand had had a couple of chances worth talking about. Shearer went up with the goalkeeper, Stelea, who spilt it, but Paul Scholes couldn't quite manage to convert it.
Paul Ince was uncomfortable with
an injury, and after hobbling about for 20
minutes, he made way for David Beckham. He made an instant impact. He played a confident one-two that allowed Le Saux to get into a good position, but his cross wasn't entirely up to it. He then got another opportunity to cross, but was just shades to high for Scholes to make a real attempt on goal.
After Moldovan's goal very early
in the first half, England looked stunned.
Romania held on to the ball, their strong point for the whole game. England
couldn't get a sniff for a long while, Ilie hit a fierce shot from the 'D',
which Seaman was glad to hold. Then after 57 minutes, Hagi was played
through, but his first shot let him down.
England, led by their youngsters'
enthusiasm started to get back into the
game, and displayed passion for twenty minutes. Beckham hit a free kick just high, Scholes hit a long range shot at the keeper, before a Beckham cross ran through to Anderton, who put it through the keeper's legs, but it ran agonisingly across the goalface and no one got a touch.
Finally, Le Saux crossed to Shearer
on the bye-line, he pushed it back
across the face of goal, and substitute Micheal Owen was on it like a flash. The country celbrated, England had a point, and the second round was a stone's throw away.
Until disaster struck. Petrescu is his real name.
England looked to have enough to have taken the three points, but the normal zest of the English game wasn't there in the first half, and only for twenty minutes in the second. Romania kept the ball for long periods of time. The young players, Beckham and Owen, both only substitutes were the best England had to offer. Shearer was marked out of the game, as was last week's hero Paul Scholes.
England must now at least draw with Colombia to make the next phase, but the prospect of Argentina isn't pleasant. It'll have to be done the hard way, if England are to have success at France 98.
The final straw? Michael Owen hit
the post in the 91st minute.