CONSTANTA, Romania, Oct 13 (Reuters) A second-half goal from defender Dorin Goian helped Romania beat the Netherlands 1-0 in their top-of-the-table Euro 2008 Group G qualifier today.
Romania, undefeated in nine qualifying matches, recorded their first-ever win against the Netherlands on a soaked field, to move three points clear of their opponents on 23 points.
The Netherlands remain second on 20 points with third-placed Bulgaria, who do not play on Saturday, on 18. Romania travel to Luxembourg on Wednesday and meet Bulgaria away in November.
''It is a huge step towards qualifying for next year's finals,'' Romania coach Victor Piturca told reporters.
Goian scored from close range on 72 minutes after goalkeeper Maarten Skeletenburg deflected a headed effort from Paul Codrea.
It was his third goal for Romania in the qualifying campaign and he added to his memorable game by stopping a ball on the goal line in the dying seconds.
Piturca fielded a defensive line-up, hoping to counter-attack and the Dutch subsequently dominated the first half, but without creating any clear chances until the 23rd minute, when Wilfred Bouma's header from a corner hit the crossbar.
The Dutch increased the pressure and five minutes later Clarence Seedorf hit a 25-yard drive, but Bogdan Lobont made a fine save.
Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy wasted another opportunity ten minutes from time when he missed with a low shot from the edge of the area.
''I wish to congratulate everyone, the boys were fantastic today as they had a lot to suffer, especially in the first half,'' Piturca said.
Reuters DKS VP0218