Unirea Urziceni 1-1 VfB Stuttgart: Romanians Make Point After Inspired Display
Unirea Urziceni earned their first Champions League point – but it should have been three – with a fine performance against a fancied VfB Stuttgart side.
Dacian Varga scored the Romanians first ever goal in Europe’s most prestigious club competition early in the second half to cancel out a Tasci strike for Stuttgart who were lucky to escape the Balkans with a point.
On a historic night for Unirea, playing their first Champions League match at ‘home’ in Bucharest, it was the Germans who got off to the perfect start with an early goal from Serdar Tasci.
Capitalising on a Gebhart knockdown from an optimistic punt upfield the defender slotted home to give VfB the lead in the fifth minute.
Dan Petrescu’s side, who looked like a well organised unit in Seville a fortnight ago, lost their shape temporarily as Stuttgart peppered the Unirea goal in the early exchanges.
Ivory Coast winger Arthur Boka made some quality runs down the left hand channel for VfB but his accuracy in front of goal didn’t equal his dribbling efforts.
Unirea gradually came into the game after the shock of conceding an early goal and it was frontman Marius Bilasco who was causing the Stuttgart defence some problems with his physical presence.
The Romanians began to seize control as the first half wore on and were effective from set pieces and dominated the corner count in the opening 45 minutes.
Vasile Maftei almost took advantage of one such opportunity when he ghosted in and got on the receiving end of a Balan cross only to shoot well over the bar.
The home side ended the first half on top and threw on Sorin Frunza for the second 45 minutes to give them more creativity in the middle.
Unirea’s fans didn’t have to wait long as Dacian Varga squared matters with a fine finish moments into the second half. Seizing control of the ball inside the right hand side of the box he beat his man and fired past Lehmann with a wonderful left foot shot which rifled into the corner of the net to send Dan Petrescu into raptures on the sideline.
VfB appeared to wake up after conceding the goal and forced the impressive Unirea keeper Arlauskis into a decent stop from a Pogrebnyak shot minutes after that match was levelled.
Defender Bruno Fernandes was in superb form for the home side and made several important blocks as the game more resembled a basketball match with both sides going for it in the final half hour.
Unirea hero Varga had a chance to earn legendary status with a second in the 68th minute after finding space in the box but his poor control let the opportunity slip away as the Romanians looked to push for a winner.
Timo Gebhart stood out for Die Roten, who were sorely missing Aleksandr Hleb’s industry in midfield, and he went close with a mazy dribble beating several defenders only to fire straight at Arlauskis from barely five yards out.
Sensing victory Unirea pushed forward and continued to look the more likely as the match wore on and Apostol wasted a chance by firing straight at goal from 40 yards out when he had options available.
VfB relied on Boka to create something down the wing but seemed content to hang on for a draw which won’t help their prospects of qualifying from a difficult group.
As for the hosts, playing away from their regular ground, they will be left ruing their chance to score a famous win after an inspired performance.