Round 17 – results, scorers, standings and highlights
- Unirea Urziceni – Sportul Studentesc 2-1 (Maftei 47, Semedo 72 / Balan 18)
Vital win for Octavian Grigore’s men, who came back from behind to take all the points and make it almost impossible for Sportul to avoid relegation. The goals came from two players that have big chances to leave Urziceni this month, so Unirea isn’t in a much better position either, as I expect them to struggle even to keep the current roster, so there’s no chance that it might get better after the winter mercato.
- FC Vaslui – Pandurii Targu Jiu 3-1 (Wesley 40, Bello 45, R. Costin 50 / Voiculet 48)
Quite unlucky defeat for Pandurii, as the home team was extremely efficient and punished the guests in three consecutive plays. A lesson of pragmatism and a second consecutive fortunate win for FC Vaslui, who climbed into third place after this round and makes everyone wonder how Hizo’s men will be stopped when they’ll start to play some football and look like an organized team. They’re currently lacking some quality at the back and the coach is too keen to keep all the stars happy. Fielding them at the same time often makes Vaslui play with 5 defensive players and 5 forwards, a way to unbalance team to sustain a long run of good form & positive results.
- Otelul Galati – Astra Ploiesti 2-1 (Antal 5 pen, Pena 57 / Tigoianu 63)
They’ve done it and everyone should acknowledge this fantastic achievement (althout it says a lot about the current level of the league). Otelul took all three plays after a confident display and, for the first time in the club’s history, finishes the first half of the season in first place. For those who dare to dream, here’s a nice stat: in the last 10 years, only 3 teams who were topping the standings in the winter failed to go on and win the league.
- FC Brasov – Rapid 2-0 (Rusu 11, Chipciu 26)
Shocking result, although Rapid’s struggles away from home are no longer a surprise. Still, Rapid was the team that bought Coman, Rui Duarte, Ezequias, Grigore, Roman and Sburlea from FC Brasov in the summer, turning this challenger for a place in Europe into a club facing the prospect of relegation at the end of the season. Brasov’s new sensation struck once again, offering the assist for the first goal and adding a wonderful second, but the ref’s “performance” shouldn’t be ignorred, as he denied Rapid a penalty whent the score was 1-0 and also was wrong to sent off at least one of Cassio and Lazar…
- Dinamo – Poli Timisoara 0-0
Tight affair in Bucharest, between two fierce rivals (at least this is what their fans believe), and this was the most unexpected result. Dinamo are a mess in defense, yet they managed to keep a clean sheet against one of the good attacking teams of the league, but Cosmin Contra was happy enough with the draw, as he manages to stay undefeated since he took over from Petrovic and still close to the league’s leaders.
- Universitatea Cluj – FCM Targu Mures 1-1 (Cl. Niculescu 28 / Vagner 5)
Predictable draw in Cluj, with Ionut Badea making a not very convincing first game in charge of the “Red Caps” who play in black and white. Niculescu looked better on the pitch than he did as a caretaker manager and he finishes the first half of season with more goals (7) than all the forwards that stayed at Dinamo and forced his departure from Stefan cel Mare. Targu Mures will be sad to see the competition so close to the end, as they’re looking very well organized under Sabau and also fear that they could lose their young manager during the winter break, with CFR Cluj looking seriously into the possibility to sign the former Romanian international.
- Steaua – CFR Cluj 2-2 (B. Stancu 28 pen, 50 / Culio 11, Peralta 82)
Excellent game, as you’d expect between two ambitious teams in desperate need of points. Steaua had to thank the in-form Stancu for getting them back in the game after Culio’s opener, but ended up blaming the goalscorer for missing a couple of chances to kill the game. The ending was mad, as Peralta – who had a solid first half of season – brought the equalizer, made the home team lose its head and CFR could have walked with the points, yet they wasted two golden opportunities to take this and get back in the title race.
- Gloria Bistrita – Victoria Branesti 1-0 (Bajenaru 26)
Gloria’s board had simply too much experience in this survival battle to let these three vital points pass by and Victoria’s anger at the way the match was conducted will soon be forgotten. One thing is for sure – the figth for a place in Liga I is so tight that it will keep things very open in the upper part of the standings, until the very end.
- Gaz Metan Medias – Universitatea Craiova 1-0 (Litu 67)
Those in love with tactics should watch the way Gaz Metan plays and, finally, Pustai could count on a striker’s help, with Litu providing the decisive goal (only his second of the season!). It wasn’t easy, though, for the home team, as Universitatea tried to play football and could have been rewarded in the end, but the promising Gangioveanu missed a penalty kick in the 90th minute. Cosmin Vatca saved it. He’s the club’s third choice goalie…
For reasons that cannot and haven’t been explained, the league will go on for two more weeks before the winter break. Even if, next year, there could have been a final tournament, we wouldn’t have qualified for it. So, what’s the point for this non-sense schedule? A question waiting in vain for a proper answer from guys too busy calling each other names and fighting wars that will only harm a competition that looks less challenging with every year…