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Jurnalul.ro Vechiul site Old site English Version The Number 1 Football in Europe

The Number 1 Football in Europe

de Florin Gongu    |    17 Mar 2006   •   00:00
The Number 1 Football in Europe

Betis - Steaua: 0 - 3! We Beat Them to Their Tears

Correspondence from Sevilla
Yesterday, Steaua destroyed the team that beat Chelsea in their UEFA Champions League game and qualified for the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup. Romania has two teams in the first eight, in the UEFA Cup, and Bucharest and Milan are the only cities with two teams in the European competitions.


Due to their sensational display and to the diabolically applied strikes, Steaua put Betis to shame and defied the spirited crowd in Andalusia. They cried their happiness after the match with Abramovich’s stars, but the cameras caught them bursting into tears after the collision with Gigi Becali’s army.


Only few miles away from the place where, on the 7th of May 1986, President Marius Lacatus and last night’s special guest, Helmuth Duckadam, won the Euro Champions’ Cup, Mirel Radoi, Banel Nicolita and Victoras Iacob seemed to build up a new glorious era for Steaua. After a rather prudent first half, in which Carlos Fernandes’ saves and the confidence of the Ghionea-Goian couple dominated the game, Steaua simply took off in the second half. In the 54th minute, Nicolita exploded through the middle and, after an incredible race, scored the emancipative goal. A red card for Joaquin after only seven more minutes made it Steaua’s game. The two more goals from Iacob (78) and Nicolita (82) made it a shocking 0-3.


The approximately 1,000 Romanian fans in the stadium were celebrating at the end of the game. In the locker room, the players and the coaches have been congratulated by President Marius Lacatus, by the coach of the legendary team in ’86, Emeric Ienei, by Cosimn Contra and Gica Craioveanu, the players of Getafe, as well as by club owner Gigi Becali, who came with his good friend Viorel Hrbenciuc.


"I thank all the people that criticized and insulted us during the last days. These things united us, motivated us and made us want the victory even more. If we are a defensive team and score three goals in our away games, it is OK". Cosmin Olaroiu - the Steaua Coach

"I built a precious team. We are invincible in the double-leg matches. Everything is possible in a final. We have a homogenous team, in which there are no stars. This is what makes us powerful." - Gigi Becali - the Steaua Owner

"W obtained these results because the Romanian football has started to be honest, and the players hardly leave the championship for bigger clubs. Steaua is one of the clubs that have to be congratulated for this". - Marius Lacatus - the Steaua President.

HSV - RAPID: 3-1

Mihai Igirosanu
Rapid was the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals of an European competition after 13 years. Right after the game ended, the Rapid President, Dinu Gheorghe, resumed the events on the AOL Arena to: "It is the sweetest defeat in the entire history of Rapid!".


"We started the game very well, but, due to two childish mistakes, Hamburg leveled the score. We controlled the game in the first part of the second half. The craziest 20 minutes that I have ever seen in football followed. It is a historical night for Rapid, a magic night", coach Razvan Lucescu stated. He pointed the finger at club owner George Copos again: "He should be happy. He should be the happiest and the most proud man in Romania, especially because he didn’t believe Rapid could make it for the quarterfinals like others did!". The Hamburg coach, Thomas Doll, thinks Rapid were lucky to qualify: "Rapid were the luckier team, but I don’t know if they were the better team as well. I have never seen a team so sad after such a victory. We had a lot of goal opportunities at the end of the game, but the ball simply didn’t want to get into the net", he said.


The author of the decisive goal for Rapid’s qualification, Mugurel Buga, became UEFA Cup goalgetter, with nine goals. "I didn’t even know I was the goalgetter of the competition. Actually, I didn’t know there is prize for the player with the most goals in the UEFA Cup", the man that changed the fate of Rapid demurely said.


On Wednesday night, in the University Plaza, hundreds of supporters celebrated the greatest performance in the history of the club. The flags where high up in the air until dawn, when the 500 fans left for the "Aurel Vlaicu" Airport, to welcome their idols.

However, if the Rapid supporters celebrated the qualification in the University Plaza on Wednesday night, one can say the Steaua fans really invaded it last night. Right after the end of the game in Sevilla, the fans of the Romanian champions gathered in downtown Bucharest and they were more then a 10,000. The atmosphere, with chants, whistles, fireworks and car horns, was incredible.

"I questioned the support of the board. I remembered that there were only three people in the plane that got us back from Rotterdam. Now, they were so many and wondered why they weren’t there at the match with Feyenoord". - Razvan Lucescu, the Rapid Coach

Translated by Sorin Balan
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