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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Romania's yellow peril
The Romanian players celebrate a fine win
The Romanian players celebrate a fine win
Romania coach Emerich Jenei had no time to bask in the joy of victory against England as he saw his squad decimated by injuries and suspension.

Jenei faced up to a lengthy list of absentees after confirming a Euro 2000 quarter-final against Italy following the 3-2 win in Charleroi.

Experienced defender Gica Popescu, who limped off against England after rupturing a thigh muscle, will be out for the rest of the tournament.

And midfielder Dan Petrescu, striker Adrian Ilie and defender Cosmin Contra all picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament on Tuesday and sit out the Italy game.

Jenei did, however, permit himself a satisfied smile when asked if he felt his policy for Euro 2000 had been vindicated.

He had faced criticism for ignoring some of the country's talented young players and keeping faith with the older players he knows so well.

Old guard

Jenei claimed the presence of the "golden generation" of Popescu, Hagi and Petrescu, who shined six years ago at the World Cup in the United States, has overshadowed the emergence, albeit gradually, of a new crop of Romanian players.

Romania were without the suspended Hagi against England, and for the last 58 minutes they were robbed of the organisational and leadership skills of the injured Popescu.

Of the old guard only Petrescu, midfielder Dorinel Munteanu and goalkeeper Bogdan Stelea remained on the field.

It was the first real test for the new Romania, and their performance offered hope to the fans in the Balkan country that they could remain among the continent's elite for years to come.

Romania showed once again that, even without me, they are an excellent team

Gheorge Hagi
Nineteen-year-old Ajax left-back Cristian Chivu opened the scoring, and delivered an outstanding performance as he marked David Beckham out of the game and constantly caused Gary Neville problems.

Jenei, in particular, will be pleased that the names that Italy coach Dino Zoff will now be taking note of are those players whose selection he felt was ignored.

In Hagi's spot, 20-year-old Adrian Mutu showed why Inter Milan brought him to Italy from Dinamo Bucharest as he delivered a thoughtful and confident display in his first outing in a major international competition.

Petrescu: One of those banned for the Italy game
Jenei had chosen Mutu, who has normally operated as a striker for Inter, ahead of the 31-year-old defensive midfielder Ionut Lupescu, a move that not only produced a more attack-minded line-up but showed Jenei is willing to put faith in younger players.

Hagi, who will retire after this tournament, is confident that he will leave behind a team with a future.

"Once again Romania showed that without Hagi they are still a very good team and they gave an excellent performance," said the 35-year-old Galatasaray midfielder.

Hagi also gave his seal of approval to his replacement, "Mutu is a very good young player. I have said before that he has a lot of talent and against England he demonstrated that he has a place in this team".

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See also:

21 Jun 00 | England
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21 Jun 00 | England
England face up to crisis
20 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Keegan refuses to make excuses
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