European Football - Steaua close in on first Romanian title in seven years

Steaua Bucharest took a huge step towards their first league title since 2006 as they beat second-placed Pandurii Targu-Jiu 2-0 on Friday to go 16 points clear at the top of the Romanian championship.

European Football - Steaua close in on first Romanian title in seven years

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Steaua Bucharest striker Raul Rusescu (AFP)

Steaua, the 1986 European Cup winners, have 69 points with five matches remaining, 16 ahead of Pandurii Targu-Jiu and 17 ahead of Petrolul Ploiesti, who visit lowly Turnu Severin on Saturday.

A draw or a Petrolul defeat would enable Steaua to be crowned champions for a record 24th time.

Dinamo Bucharest, Steaua's bitter city rivals, kept alive their hopes of playing in the Europa League next season after a 2-1 win at Gloria Bistrita on Friday. Dinamo, who won the league 18 times, are fourth with 52 points from 29 games.

In-form Steaua, unbeaten in their last 13 league matches, dominated the match and went ahead through league top scorer Raul Rusescu, who netted his 20th goal in the championship after 12 minutes.

Towering Polish defender Lukasz Szukala made it 2-0 with a fine header from Alexandru Bourceanu's cross four minutes before the interval.

"It was a very good match and the boys showed character against a very good team," said Steaua coach Laurentiu Reghecampf. "I hope we'll win the 24th title as soon as possible."

Steaua had a decent run in the Europa League this season, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Chelsea in the round of 16. Before that, Steaua finished top of their group and knocked out Ajax Amsterdam in the last 32.

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