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Losing To United Wasn’t A Disaster For Cluj

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Seeing as the weekend has gone, as someone with an interest in Romanian football, I can now fully look back at CFR Cluj’s match against Manchester United on Tuesday. Firstly Cluj planned well for the match but failed to really play for the full 90 minutes.

The Romanian champions looked like they have rehearsed only the intro to their piece and then forgot about what their job was, and only remembered some replicas at the end.

The night had started brilliantly for the hosts. Evra got a taste of Modou Sougou’s pace and the massive Pantelis Kapetanos up-top somehow escaped his guards, namely Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand. The Greek opened the scoring after a move of elemental, Olympian simplicity.

Of course 15 minutes elapsed until United equalised. Sir Alex Ferguson with a gesture of impatience no doubt was telling his boys that they needed to step up their game. The reward came quickly. First, United’s midfield thrust into oppressive mode and Cluj began to suffer from the pressure giving away a silly free-kick.

Rooney’s delivery into the area was good and Robin van Persie’s header found the net – well just about – thanks to his shoulder. Marco Felgueiras in goal couldn’t believe his luck and who could blame him. It was an odd goal which only showed that the Romanians have become prone to errors.

The defenders were nowhere near RVP and the goalkeeper was wrong footed. The loss of Sougou earlier in the match and the introduction of Luis Alberto, a defensive midfielder,  blunted all the arrows in attack and meant that Cluj’s intentions were to just to avoid a terrible defeat. Hardly a great team tactic that!

Not long after the break Rooney put a fantastic ball into the box which RVP scored in another twisted manner. The prescient forward just knew that Felgueiras in goal would hesitate coming out to get the ball and whilst his finish wasn’t crisp, it still made it’s way into the net, spinning in as It went over the line.

United’s defence then began to show cracks after Cadu’s header from a corner was saved by David De Gea. This gave Cluj the chance to push forward late-on and the Spaniard did well to tip Rafael Bastos’ header past the post as United just about hung on.

Over the years United have come through games like this because they have that aura of inevitability about them that says no matter what the opposition will do, United will still win.

The outcome of this result was not met with despair in Cluj and across Romania. It was not a humiliation, a debacle. We are savants at wishful thinking and wilful forgetting. So, instead of grumbling about a feeble performance, everybody just shrugged and promised to vindicate the fans with the two games against Galatasaray. It can be achieved only if the players will play the game for 90 minutes and not allow their opponents a foothold of the match. 

By Leo Macavei @simontwee