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Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 20:36 UK

Steaua Bucharest 3-0 Motherwell

Giles Coke and Mihai Onicas
Motherwell debutant Giles Coke is tackled by Mihai Onicas

Motherwell suffered a first leg defeat in their Europa League third qualifying round tie with Steaua Bucharest.

Well captain Stephen Craigan's own goal put the Romanians ahead on the half-hour mark, seconds before Steaua's Dorin Goian saw his penalty saved.

But Banel Nicolita did extend the home side's lead in first-half injury time.

Bogdan Stancu headed a third on 60 minutes from Rafal Grzelak's cross and Steaua could have added to their lead in the closing stages.

The visitors travelled to Bucharest having disposed of Albanians Flamurtari and Welsh side Llanelli in the previous two qualification rounds.

However, it was Steaua who were in the ascendancy from early in the match with Stancu having an effort saved by goalkeeper John Ruddy and Romeo Surdu coming close from long range.

Grzelak replaced Janos Szekely minutes before the hosts were rewarded for their pressure as Nicolita's corner was diverted past on-loan Everton keeper Ruddy by the unfortunate Craigan.

Almost straight from the restart, Surdu won his side a spot-kick after being fouled by Ross Forbes.

But debutant Ruddy was equal to Goian's attempt from 12 yards.

After Forbes had been withdrawn and Stephen Hammell introduced, Paul Slane's shot drew a save from keeper Cristian Tatarusanu.

Grzelak was the architect for Steaua's second, threading a ball through for Nicolita to slide in and convert past Ruddy.

The visitors searched in vain for an away goal after the break with John Sutton heading off-target from substitute Jim O'Brien's centre.

And within minutes, Steaua moved into an unassailable lead as Grzelak crossed from the left and the unmarked Stancu nodded into the net.

Steaua players celebrating
The Steaua players had plenty to celebrate in their home leg

Stancu may have added to his tally but failed to connect properly when presented with a further chance.

Motherwell came closest to scoring 18 minutes from the end when Sutton's header from Stephen Hammell's free-kick was blocked by Tatarusanu into the path of Giles Coke, who blasted the rebound over.

There was more pressure from Steaua late in the match with Krum Bibishkov's shot well saved by Ruddy and Mihai Onicas heading against the woodwork from the resulting corner.

And Ruddy was called into action again in the final minute, this time to save a free kick by replacement Razvan Ochirosii.

The two side's meet again at Airdrie's Excelsior Stadium next Thursday, with Motherwell's Fir Park pitch still undergoing remedial work.

Steaua Bucuresti: Tatarusanu, Ninu, Goian, Golanski, Baciu, Szekely (Grzelak 26), Nicolita (Ochirosii 87), Onicas, Surdu (Bibishkov 72), Ionescu, Stancu.
Subs Not Used: Zapata, Tudose, Tininho.

Booked: Goian, Ninu.

Goals: Craigan 30 og, Nicolita 45, Stancu 60.

Motherwell: Ruddy, Saunders, Reynolds, Craigan, Hutchinson, Coke, Humphrey (O'Brien 54), Jennings (Murphy 76), Sutton, Forbes (Hammell 36), Slane.
Subs Not Used: Fraser, Lasley, Page, McHugh.

Booked: Hutchinson, Saunders.

Att: 25,000

Ref: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

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see also
Well boss admires victors Steaua
30 Jul 09 |  Europe
Europa League photos
30 Jul 09 |  Europe
Football star found dead in home
30 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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