BUCHAREST - Matteo Brighi scored a goal in each half to help AS Roma beat CFR Cluj 3-1 and overtake Chelsea at the top of Champions League Group A on Wednesday. Brighi opened the scoring for the Italians in the 11th minute after a defensive error and added his second in the 64th after a perfect assist from Rodrigo Taddei. Talismanic captain Francesco Totti gave Cluj goalkeeper Eduard Stancioiu no chance with a soaring 22-metre free kick into the left corner of the net to make it 2-0 in the 23rd minute. Yssouf Kone, the Romanian side's best player on the night, pulled a goal back seven minutes later with a header after Doni failed to clear Alvaro Pereira's low shot from the edge of the area. Roma's victory made up for their shock 2-1 home defeat to Cluj in the group opener at the Stadio Olimpico in September. "We started the group really badly, but today we showed that we deserve to be the leaders," Brighi told reporters. "We knew that CFR is a good team and we were happy to get two quick goals to set us on the way to victory. But I have to admit that we were lucky that CFR failed to score more in the first half." The Italians now have nine points with Chelsea second on eight and Girondins Bordeaux, Roma's opponents in the final group match on Dec. 9, third on seven. Cluj have four points. Cluj refused to bow their heads with the score at 2-0 and Kone had two good chances while Eugen Trica also missed an opportunity. "While Roma scored their first two goals from half an opportunity, my players wasted several huge opportunities," complained coach Maurizio Trombetta. "We played better when the score was 2-0 but it was too late." Roma took command in the second half as Cluj tired and Luciano Spaletti's team created plenty of space with surging counter-attacks by Brighi, Simone Perrotta and Julio Baptista. Substitute Mirko Vucinic, who came on for Totti in the 82nd minute, wasted two big opportunities to increase the lead further in the dying seconds.
26 November 2008
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