Romania Hangs On to Beat Colombia, 1-0
By Viorel Urma
Monday, June 15, 1998; 3:34 p.m. EDT
Adrian Ilie lifted Romania to a 1-0 victory Monday over Colombia in Group G at the World Cup.
So nicknamed because of his habit of striking from nowhere, Ilie outmaneuvered midfielder Maurizio Serna and defender Everth Palacios and put home the only goal the Romanians needed. For much of the game, Ilie clearly was the best player on the field.
Ilie sent a perfect chip shot in the 44th minute from 15 yards that sailed over goalkeeper Farid Mondragon into the net.
Ilie's goal stood up as the Colombians challenged in the second half, but could not break through.
"We repeated the history of four years ago at World Cup '94, but with a different score,'' Romania Coach Anghel Iordanescu said, referring to a 3-1 victory over Colombia.
"The victory has a great psychological importance for us, because this was the opening game, and also because we fielded several young, less-experienced players, which meant certain risks.''
Iordanescu said in the second half the Romanians had trouble with the more attack-oriented Colombians because "some of our players became tired.''
Midfielder Gheorghe Hagi, 32, was replaced in the second half when he began making poor passes. The longtime star of the Romanian team has announced he will retire after the tournament.
The Romanian squad, still built around the core of veterans that played at the World Cup in the United States, set the pace for much of the match. In contrast, Colombia struggled to maintain possession despite occasional flashes of excellence.
At the start of the second half, Colombia coach Hernan Dario Gomez livened up his attack by substituting ineffective striker Victor Aritsizabal with Adolfo Valencia, but to no avail.
Colombia nearly tied the game in the 85th minute when Valencia made Romanian goalkeeper Bogdan Stelea dive right on his shot from 30 yards.
"It was a difficult game,'' Gomez admitted. "In the first period we lacked cohesion and clarity. After the break we were much more determined, but unfortunately we missed all our scoring opportunities. We didn't have much luck.''
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press