BUCHAREST, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Steaua Bucharest, playing with 10 men for an hour, drew 1-1 with Rapid in a tense Romanian derby on Sunday.
An extremely nervous Steaua were a pale shadow of the team that only four days previously sparkled in a 4-1 away victory over Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
Steaua left back Mihaita Nesu was sent off for dangerous play in the 30th minute and there were several minor clashes involving rival players.
Rapid midfielder Nicolae Grigore fired a powerful 18-metre shot past Steaua's Portuguese goalkeeper Carlos Fernandez 20 minutes from the start.
Substitute striker Daniel Oprita equalised for the home side six minutes from time after a perfect pass from Frenchman Cyril Thereau.
Undefeated Dinamo Bucharest, 2-1 winners at Vaslui with goals from strikers Ionel Ganea and Ionel Danciulescu, are top with a perfect record of 21 points from seven matches.
Steaua remained second, now four points adrift of Dinamo, with both teams facing each other on Wednesday. Rapid lie eighth with 10 points.
'We made a lot of mistakes in the first half but Nesu's dismissal seemed to wake us up in the second half,' Steaua coach Cosmin Olaroiu said.
'My players showed a strong character as they managed to come from behind and level with ten (men) against a really strong (Rapid) team.'
Rapid missed a golden opportunity to go two up when veteran striker Viorel Moldovan hit the post on the hour and failed again to score a winning goal when Moldovan and Ionut Mazilu both hit the crossbar in the final minute.
A strong police presence in and around the stadium for this maximum-risk match prevented a street fight between rival fans before kickoff.