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Moldovan to the rescue after hair-brained scheme backfires; ROMANIA 1.

Romania scraped a draw by a blond hair's breadth against Tunisia in the Stade de France last night and in doing so deprived England of the winner's spot in Group G.

Coventry striker Viorel Moldovan came off the bench to rescue a point after a match which had threatened to end in a famous victory for the North Africans.

Skander Souayah's tenth-minute penalty had given the Tunisians and England hope but Moldovan's 71st-minute equaliser means that the East Europeans avoid Argentina in the last 16, and instead face Croatia.

From the outset, Romania had taken steps to ensure Tunisia could not identify their dangermen virtually the entire team ran out onto the field with hair bleached blond in the style of Scotland's Craig Burley.

The one member spared the peroxide treatment was keeper Bogdan Stelea and that was only because he has no hair to bleach.

But the ruse appeared to do nothing but disturb the Romanians, as it was their backline which became engulfed by confusion.

Tunisia took a shock lead to the delight of their huge following inside the Stade de France.

Cristian Dulca manhandled the eeike Adel Sellimi and Australian referee Lennie Edwards did not have to look twice before pointing to the spot.

Souayah fired the penalty low to the keeper's left and the Tunisians in the crowd went mad.

It was just deserts for Tunisia but Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu must have been cursing his decision to risk fielding a weakened side.

The two strikers who started against England, Moldovan and rising young star Adrian Ilie, were left on the bench, as was defensive rock Gheorghe Popescu.

Iordanescu was apparently confident that experienced replacements Marius Lacatus and former Tottenham star Ilie Dumitrescu would be strong enough to take care of the Tunisians.

After haln-hour, Iordanescu all but admitted his plans had been hair-brained and replaced the harassed Dulca with Gheorghe Popescu and after 45 minutes, perhaps rocked by the halime scoreline from Lens, Iordanescu replaced Lacatus with the 24-year-old Il ie, while Moldovan came on for Dumitrescu soon afterwards.

With 19 minutes remaining, Ilie rescued Romania from embarrassment. Receiving the ball unmarked in the box, he eluded the on-rushing El Ouaer before crossing to Moldovan.

The Coventry striker, so clinical in his finishing against England, showed the same coolness to fire first time into an unguarded net.

Scorers: Souayah (pen 10) 0-1, Moldovan (72) 1-1.

ROMANIA: Stelea, Petrescu, Dulca (Gh Popescu, 31), Dobos, Ciubotariu, Galca, Munteanu, Hagi, Marinescu, Dumitrescu (Moldovan, 67), Lacatus (Ilie, 45). Subs: Stingaciu, Prunea, Selymes, Gabriel Popescu, Niculescu, Craioveanu.

TUNISIA: El Ouaer, S Trabelsi, Boukadida, Chouchane, Beya, Ghodbane (Thabet, 83), Bouazizi, Chihi, Souayah (Ben Younes, 90), Sellimi, Ben Slimane (Jelassi, 55). Subs: Salhi, Boumnijel, H Trabelsi, Ben Ahmed, Ben Younes,

Referee: E Lennie (Australia).

Bookings: Tunisia - Beya, Souayah.

Attendance: 80,000.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 27, 1998
Words:469
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