November 18, 2018 / 12:46 AM / 23 days ago

Romania outclass Lithuania to keep alive promotion hopes

Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League - League C - Group 4 - Romania v Lithuania - Ilie Oana Stadium, Ploiesti, Romania - November 17, 2018 Lithuania's Gratas Sirgedas in action with Romania's Alexandru Chipciu Inquam Photos/Bogdan Buda via REUTERS

PLOIESTI, Romania (Reuters) - Romania kept alive their slim hopes of finishing top in Group 4 in the third tier of the Nations League after George Puscas’s first international goal set them on their way to a 3-0 win over Lithuania on Saturday.

Second-half strikes by Claudiu Keseru and Nicolae Stanciu wrapped up a comfortable victory that left the unbeaten Romanians second on nine points from five games.

They are two points behind leaders Serbia and two ahead of third-placed Montenegro, who can no longer clinch top spot. Lithuania, who have no points, were relegated.

Puscas fired Romania ahead after seven minutes following good work in the penalty area from Alexandru Chipchiu and Keseru doubled the home side’s advantage with an easy finish from close range two minutes after the break.

The Lithuanians, who did not have a single shot on target, were outclassed in every department and Stanciu made it 3-0 midway through the second half when visiting keeper Ernestas Setkus failed to deal with his free kick from near the left touchline.

The visitors finished the match with 10 men after Arvydas Novikovas was sent off for a second bookable offence two minutes from fulltime.

The game at the Ilie Oana Stadium in Ploiesti was played behind closed doors after Romania were hit with a supporter ban by UEFA following “racist behaviour” in the crowd during the game against Serbia last month.

Romania visit Montenegro in their final game on Tuesday while Serbia, who beat the Montenegrins 2-1 earlier on Saturday, are at home to Lithuania.

Ianis Hagi, the 20-year-old son of ex-Romania great Gheorghe Hagi, made his international debut when he came on as a second-half substitute.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Toby Davis

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