The new keeper, John Ruddy, didn't have long to wait before he was called into action as he had to be brave to smother a cut back before diving low to stop one from Stancu. We managed up the other end for what was to be a rare attack and gained a corner but almost all the first half was spent in desperate defence as wave after wave of Steaua attack was repulsed.
Well fans in Bucharest
After 30 minutes we were still level, much against the run of play, but it looked bad when Craigan's high foot lead to an indirect free kick 16 yards out. We survived but at the cost of a corner and from that Craigan, under no immediate threat, scored an own goal when attempting the clearance. It was a cruel way to lose the lead.
Ruddy earned his spurs a couple of minutes later when Forbes' clumsy tackle resulted in a penalty. The keeper made a fine save and kept us in the match. Forbes was replaced by Hammell.
It looked like we might survive without further loss until the break but a brilliant pass and dummy on the edge of the box cut our through our defence allowing Nicoliţă plenty of time to slip the ball beyond the helpless Ruddy.
It was the classic 'bad time to lose a goal' but we reformed after the break and within minutes O'Brien was thrown on for the ineffective Humphrey. The game opened up a little but we fell further behind on the hour. Saunders was nutmegged and the resulting cross fell to Stancu who made no mistake with the close range header.
There were a couple of expeditions into the Steaua penalty area but we carried no threat. They should have claimed a fourth when a counter attack gave Surdu an easy chance but thankfully he fluffed it. The vital away goal almost came with fifteen minutes remaining. A Hammell free kick found Sutton and his strong header was parried by the keeper. It fell to Coke but he blasted high.
Murphy was given a run at the expense of Jennings as Gannon went for broke. Steau had a couple of golden chances but they spurned the opportunities. Both teams has free kicks in dangerous positions in the final minutes. Slane took our chance but lifted the ball high.
It looks like the European dream has only one game to go but no doubt we'll have a go when they come to Scotland next week. Steaua are a far better team and thoroughly deserved the win.