Romania's World Cup qualifying campaign ended in disappointment despite a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein in their Group J clash in Vaduz on Sunday, after North Macedonia beat Iceland 3-1 to finish second in the group and grab the playoff spot.
Romania had to defeat winless Liechtenstein in their final group match and needed Iceland to get at least draw with North Macedonia to remain alive. Germany had already qualified for the Qatar 2022 finals as group winners.
The results meant Romania finish third in the group with 17 points from 10 matches, a point behind North Macedonia who will go through to the playoffs in March after their fifth victory of a spirited qualifying campaign.
Forward Dennis Man put Romania 1-0 up in the eighth minute, but the visitors were unable to extend their lead as captain Nicolae Stanciu missed several chances and sent a first-half penalty wide with goalkeeper Benjamin Buechel beaten.
Despite denying Romania on a number of occasions following the break, Buechel was unable to stop Nicusor Bancu's screamer from long range in the 87th minute that wrapped up the win for the visitors on an otherwise frustrating day.