CFR Cluj's bid to become the first Romanian side to qualify
for the Champions League knockout stages ended on Wednesday despite a
famous 1-0 upset win over Premier League leaders Manchester United.
Luis Alberto struck an unstoppable swerving shot after 56 minutes to
condemn a second-string United to their first home loss in Europe's
elite competition since 2009, but Galatasaray's 2-1 win at Braga put the
Turkish side through.
finished Group H level on 10 points with Galatasaray, behind winners
United on 12, but the Romanians lost out on head-to-head record and have
the Europa League as consolation.
Bucharest, the 1986 winners, reached the final of Europe's elite club
competition in 1989, but no Romanian club has reached the knockout
stages of the Champions League since it was formed in the 1992-93
Cluj, making their
third Champions League appearance after group stage outings in 2010-11
and 2008-09, survived pressure from the home team in the first half when
goalkeeper Mario Felgueiras denied Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney.
Felgueiras also repelled a Danny Welbeck header as United looked to grab the advantage.
it was Luis Alberto's moment of genius in the second half that stole
the show for the visitors in a largely dour affair, inflicting a first
home defeat on United since they lost to Besiktas in November 2009.
a fantastic goal they scored to beat us," United manager Alex Ferguson
told the club's website of the superb strike past
goalkeeper David de Gea.
bent it away from David, who had no chance with it. It was just one of
those nights. We didn't take our chances," added Ferguson, unfazed by
two straight Champions League defeats after his side were assured of
qualification by winning their first four games.
qualified early and after that we experimented. That will hold us in
good stead for the next phase," the Scot told Sky Sports, adding that
midfielder Cleverley had picked up a calf injury at the end of the first
opponents will be known when the draw is made on Dec. 20, with
Ferguson's men due to face one of the group runners-up.
European champions Real Madrid, seven-times winners AC Milan, 1987 and
2004 champions Porto, twice finalists Valencia, 2009 UEFA Cup winners
Shakhtar Donetsk or Scotland's Celtic await.
head into uncharted waters when they resume European competition in the
Europa League last 32 in February, their first taste of continental
action after Christmas, though coach Paulo Sergio said his team were
upset not to have qualified.
played very, very well. Our game went as we had worked for and
expected, and we did not allow Manchester United to impose their style
of play," he told UEFA's website.
players are sad now, but they have to be proud, because it is not
common to win at Old Trafford," added Sergio, who replaced Ioan Andone
in October, midway through the Romanian champions' group-stage campaign.
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