Steed on Target

Sunday 11 November 2001

Fulham's Steed Malbranque got the only goal of the game when France took a large step towards booking their place in the Under-21 European Championship finals with victory over Romania in Bucharest on Saturday.

Romania were weakened by coach Gheorghe Hagi's decision to call up three players from the Under-21 squad to join his side for the World Cup play-off against Slovenia, and France were soon in control, Steed Malbranque firing home from 25 yards to give his side the lead on eight minutes.

"It's definitely a good result. Of course I would have preferred to win 3-0, but I'm happy with that," France coach Raymond Domenech said.

Just before scoring the opener, Malbranque had wasted a superb chance from the penalty spot after the Romania defence had failed to clear Sidney Govou's cross. The Fulham midfielder was caught by surprise when completely unmarked in front of goal and shot wide.

Romania's best chance fell to Catalic Munteanu who hit the post four minutes after the restart.

rance should have doubled their lead with ten minutes to go when Lyon striker Govou shot wide after being found in plenty of space by Malbranque pass.

"Scoring here means Romania will have to score twice to win in France, which is important," Domenech said. "Still, we saw them play against Italy during the group stages and they did particularly well. So let's be cautious, we've won nothing yet."