Romania breathed new life into their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Lithuania in Marijampole.
Razvan Lucescu got off to a winning start as Romania coach thanks to Ciprian Marica's goal six minutes before half-time. The result put the Romanians on seven points in Group 7 after six matches, level with Austria, who were defeated by leaders Serbia 1-0 in Belgrade.
Romania are also now two points behind the Lithuanians, who stay third, and three behind France in the all-important second spot. Lithuania, the surprise package of the group so far, will rue an opportunity missed to continue their momentum by leapfrogging the French.
Marica was unlucky not to score in the third minute, arriving just too late to connect with Tiberiu Ghioane's cross, while Marius Stankevicius saw his effort blocked at the other end six minutes later. Marica broke into the Lithuanian box again in the 15th minute before running into several defenders and captain Cristian Chivu went close with a long-range effort 10 minutes later.
Marica was in the thick of the action again after half an hour, bringing a save out of Zydrunas Karcemarskas, and the striker's endeavour was rewarded in the 39th minute when he hit a low shot from 20 metres which nestled into the bottom-right hand corner. The Stuttgart forward went in search of a second after the break and almost found it with 20 minutes to go, only to be denied by Karcemarskas once again.
However, his first-half effort proved decisive in the end as Romania came away with the 1-0 victory that their fans will be hoping signals the start of a rejuvenation under Lucescu.