Southampton withstood a ferocious atmosphere here last night but went out of the Uefa Cup after failing to convert their chances. So the Saints saw their return to Europe after a 19-year absence come to an end at the first attempt.
Kevin Phillips, Southampton's scorer in the first leg, went from hero to villain as he failed to convert a one-on-one chance. Then, after Rory Delap had completely missed his kick from six yards out, Claudiu Raducanu struck eight minutes from time to extinguish the hopes of Gordon Strachan's side.
The Romanians' 25,000-strong home support created an intensely hostile backdrop for Saints and their 2,000 fans in the archaic Ghencea Stadium. The visitors were subjected to crescendos of boos and whistles at regular intervals. But they coped capably with the atmosphere.
Strachan had a severely depleted midfield with Chris Marsden, Neil McCann and Matt Oakley all missing. What was already a tricky encounter for Southampton was made worse by a bumpy pitch made slippery by pouring rain.
Phillips missed an excellent chance to put Saints ahead two minutes before the interval. Fabrice Fernandes put the former Sunderland striker clean through but the goalkeeper Vasili Hamutovski parried Phillips' weak side-foot shot.
Five minutes after half-time, another chance went begging when James Beattie nodded down Danny Higginbotham's cross and Delap swung a boot at the ball from close range but failed to make contact.
The breakthrough came as Steaua hit Southamptonn on the break and Raducanu exchanged passes with Florentin Dumitru before sliding the ball home from eight yards.
Steaua Bucharest: Hamutovski, Dumitru, Rachita, Paraschiv, Radoi, Stoica, Aliuta (Falemi, 56), Bostina, Raducanu (Ogararu, 88), Oprita (Dinita, 69), Mutica. Substitutes not used: Tudor, Curt, Pitu, Nanu.
Southampton: Niemi, Dodd, Lundekvam, Phillips, Beattie (Tessen, 86), M Svensson, A Svensson, Delap, Higginbotham, Fernandes, Telfer. Substitutes not used: Jones, Hall, Prutton, Griffit, Folly, Ormerod.
Referee: S Johannesson (Swe).
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