Tuesday evening, the CFR football club, based in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), won its fourth consecutive Romanian champion title, after defeating FC Botoşani with a score of 1-0 in an away game, in the penultimate round of the Romanian first-league playoffs.
Just like last year, CFR again became the champion of Liga 1 in 2021, and with this, the Transylvanian team won its fourth champion title in a row and the seventh in its 114-year history. Furthermore, with this seventh title, the Kolozsvár-based club also became the “champion of the countryside,” meaning that CFR is now the most successful football club in Romania that is not based in Bucharest.
The fate of the match in Botoşani was decided by Alexandru Ţigănaşu’s own goal in the 53rd minute, when following a CFR corner, the host-team defender involuntarily deflected the ball into his own net.
CFR played a solid game and missed several great goal opportunities. Cristian Manea dispatched a majestic long shot, for example, in the 29th minute, but the Botoşani goalkeeper Eduard Pap made a spectacular diving save. Then Adrian Păun shot from the edge of the box a little near the goal in the 36th minute. In the second half, when the guest team was already in the lead, Pap miraculously rejected Valentin Costache’s clear shot (68), saving his team from the second goal. During overtime, Mario Rondon still had the opportunity to score that second goal for the Transylvanians but missed the empty goal in the 94th minute.
The hosts also had two huge goal opportunities; first, they had a crossbar shot in the 32nd minute, and then the Syrian Mahmoud Al-Mawas had an opportunity in the 93rd minute, but it was blocked by CFR goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.
Tuesday evening, after its away victory, CFR had six points more than FCSB, which at that time still had two more games to play. If FCSB equals with CFR in points at the end of the season, the Transylvanian team would still have an advantage, considering that the Bucharest team benefited from the rounding of the score at the beginning of the playoffs. But it surely won’t happen, as one day after CFR’s victory, FCSB lost 1-0 against CSU Craiova on Wednesday, meaning that before the last round of the championship, the six-point difference remained between the two teams and FCSB cannot equal with CFR anymore.
As CFR won the Romanian championship, it will play in the Champions League preliminaries also for the fourth time in a row. The Romanian champion has to pass four rounds before the group stage, and unlike last year, when the pandemic forced the double rounds of qualifiers to be replaced by a single match, the classic rule will return in 2021, meaning each tie will be played over two legs, with each team playing one leg at home.
Title image: CFR defeated FC Botoşani with a score of 1-0 on May 18, becoming the Romanian Champion in 2021 for the fourth time in a row. (Photo: Nicu Cherciu / Fotbal Club CFR 1907 CLUJ-NAPOCA Facebook)