Failed Arsenal and Tottenham free agent target hits brace to keep World Cup dream alive

Ciprian Marica eventually joined Getafe instead of one of the North London clubs - and he is showing signs of being back to his best.

Both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were reported to be in very close contact with Romanian international Ciprian Marica this summer, and in fact into the Autumn. The reasons why were simple - both clubs needed an extra striker, the Transfer Window had shut and Marica was arguably the best option available as a free agent.

Marica had ended a largely unconvincing spell with Schalke 04 in the summer when his contract with the Bundesliga club came to an end. But others remembered fondly his time with Shakhtar Donetsk and Stuttgart, so with that in mind he became a prime target for the North London duo.

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But despite offers from the Premier League, Serie A and his homeland he opted for a move to Spain, with Getafe beating local rivals Rayo Vallecano to his services - after he got advice from Raul, a man who knows Madrid very well and a former team-mate in Gelsenkirchen.

He made his debut for Getafe last weekend, as a late substitute - so had very little time to have much impact - but impact is certainly the word you would describe for his performance against Hungary in the FIFA World Cup qualifier yesterday evening.

Romania went into the tie knowing that victory was needed, with Hungary and Turkey all in close contention for a play-off berth behind the group’s runaway leaders The Netherlands.

But Romania’s opponents Estonia no longer consider themselves minnows, after making it to the play-offs for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.

Turkey lost to Holland thanks to goals from Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, but Hungary predictably defeated Andorra in Budapest - leaving Romania in need of a win to make the play-offs.

And win they did, 2-0 the final score - with both goals coming from Marica.

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He started the game from the right wing in an attacking line-up from Victor Piturca but got involded in much of the central attacking play. His first goal came from a penalty kick, which he smashed into the roof of the Estonian goal.

The second goal was however far more difficult, and therefore impressive. A cross from the right was met powerfully with an angled header across goal, that left the Estonian keeper squirming - and Romania assured of a place in the play-offs for next year’s World Cup.

The Trocolorii will likely be one of four unseeded teams, with Croatia, Portugal, Greece and Sweden currently the highest seeds based on FIFA World Rankings, so it will certainly be tough for them to qualify for the next stage - but if they do, Marica will certainly play a big role.

Here is the Marica double from last night…

image: © samlkelly

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