Lacatus 'sacrificed' after Steaua's slump goes on

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Marius Lacatus, the Steaua Bucharest coach, resigned yesterday, a day after his team were defeated 5-3 to Lyons in their Champions League Group F match despite leading 2-0 in the early stages.

"I prefer to sacrifice myself and leave, so that Steaua won't suffer after a string of poor results," Lacatus said. "When a team loses one match after another nobody other than the coach is responsible."

The Romanian team had led 2-0 after the first 10 minutes on Tuesday night and were 3-2 up at half-time before Lyons turned things round with three second-half goals.

Steaua are bottom of Group F, with one point from three matches. Bayern Munich lead the group with seven points, Lyons are second with five and Fiorentina have two.

Lacatus said he felt he had no choice but to resign. "It's clear that I lost the support of everybody, officials, supporters and media, so there is no room for me to go on any more," he said. The Steaua owner Gigi Becali had told reporters after the Lyons defeat: "I am not firing Lacatus, I'll let him drown himself."

Last week, Steaua lost 2-0 to the second division team Sportul Studentesc in the Romanian Cup and suffered a defeat by the same scoreline in a league match against Otelul Galati in a sequence of seven matches without a win.

Steaua lie third in the domestic league table, four points behind arch-rivals Dynamo Bucharest, who are top.

In Manchester United's group, E, the Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini had cut an agitated figure on the touchline during his side's 6-3 home win over AaB Aalborg and was relieved his side made the game safe with two goals in the last 11 minutes through Joseba Llorente, who finished up with a hat-trick, and Robert Pires.

"Although we conceded more goals than usual, we showed we could turn it round. Overall I was pleased with our reaction in attack," Pellegrini said. "It's a big step forward for us towards qualifying."

Villarreal are level on points with United in the group and head to Denmark in two weeks' time confident of clinching a place in the final 16.