Cluj win Romanian Cup on penalties as Ekeng remembered
CFR Cluj ended a mediocre season on a high by beating Dinamo Bucharest 5-4 on penalties in an emotional Romanian Cup final on Tuesday when the two clubs paid tribute to Dinamo midfielder Patrick Ekeng who died after collapsing on the pitch earlier this month.
Spanish attacking midfielder Juan Carlos converted the decisive spot kick after a 2-2 draw following extra time to deliver the fourth Romanian Cup for Cluj, who finished eighth in the domestic championship.
A minute’s silence was held for Cameroon's Ekeng before kickoff and the game was also halted in the 14th minute in memory of the 26-year-old, who wore the number 14 during his four-month spell at Dinamo.
Ekeng suffered a suspected heart attack shortly after coming on as a 62nd-minute substitute in a match against Viitorul Constanta on May 6. He was pronounced dead two hours later.
French striker Harlem Gnohere opened the scoring for Dinamo from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute before turning provider when he crossed from the left for midfielder Eric Bicfalvi to head home 13 minutes later.
After scoring the goals, Gnohere and Bicfalvi ran to the touchline and lifted Ekeng’s shirt to the delight of Dinamo fans, who threw up large choreographed displays in memory of the Cameroon international.
Cluj reduced the deficit two minutes after the break when Juan Carlos gave keeper Vytautas Cerniauskas no chance with a powerful 20-metre shot.
The Railwaymen pressed forward desperately with their Portuguese captain Camora hitting the cross bar with a free kick midway through the second half.
They were finally rewarded for their persistence a minute before the end of normal time when Spanish striker Cristian Lopez made it 2-2 with a header from Vitor Bruno’s free kick.