Roma achieved a sporting miracle by overturning a 4-1 first leg defeat to beat Barcelona 3-0 and reach the Champions League semi-final.
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The first leg ended 4-1 at Camp Nou, but did not reflect the two performances, as the Giallorossi scored two own goals and were very unlucky with a couple of strong penalty shouts. Cengiz Under was only fit for the bench still and Diego Perotti out of action, but Radja Nainggolan returned from injury and Patrik Schick was given his first Champions League appearance in a new 3-4-1-2 formation.
It took just six minutes to break the deadlock, as Daniele De Rossi floated a Pirlo-esque ball over the top, which he controlled right his right foot and then fired in with his left past the on-rushing Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. Dzeko’s away goal had given Roma some hope in this quarter-final and he was on target again here for his sixth Champions League strike of the season.
Roma’s pressing game caused huge problems for Ernesto Valverde and prompted several corners, while Gerard Pique needed a desperate tackle as Aleksandar Kolarov was pulling the trigger from eight yards.
Schick should’ve done better with a free header inches wide from Federico Fazio’s cross, then he couldn’t get a Nainggolan cross-shot under control and forced another last-ditch tackle.
Dzeko got his head to an Alessandro Florenzi cross and Ter Stegen had to fingertip it over the crossbar.
Roma continued to pin Barcelona back into their own penalty area in the second half and Dzeko tried to turn between two defenders, where he was both pulled down and tripped by Pique. The referee didn’t award a penalty until he was advised to do so by the goal-line official. De Rossi stepped up and beat Ter Stegen to make up for his own goal in the first leg and blow the quarter-final wide open.
Fazio almost ruined everything moments later with a clumsy tackle and could’ve been given a second yellow card.
The pressing from the hosts even forced Leo Messi into a bookable offence for stopping Aleksandar Kolarov’s counter-attack, while Ter Stegen smothered a Nainggolan volley and De Rossi’s glancing header flashed just wide of the far post.
Cengiz Under made his comeback after several weeks out from injury to replace tired Schick, while Messi fired straight at Alisson from a promising position and the Turk curled off target.
Stephan El Shaarawy took over from Nainggolan for an all-out final siege and it nearly paid off, as at the 79th minute Florenzi’s cross found the Little Pharaoh at the back post and at full stretch was denied by a stunning Ter Stegen save from point-blank range.
It was a siege and Roma finally got all those corners to pay off, as Cengiz Under found Kostas Manolas’ head at the near post, getting in front of Semedo to flick it on into the far bottom corner. The Olimpico went wild and incredibly both players who scored own goals at Camp Nou were on target here to turn the tie around completely.
It was 4-4 on aggregate and Roma had the advantage on away goals. Suddenly, Barcelona woke up and realised the situation was dire, but poured forward without really troubling Alisson. The only scare saw Alisson rush out to clear from Pique, who sprung the offside trap, and Dembele’s lob was over the empty net.
Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg, Roma win on away goals)
Dzeko 6 (R), De Rossi pen 58 (R), Manolas 82 (R)
Roma: Alisson; Manolas, Fazio, Juan Jesus; Florenzi, Strootman, De Rossi, Kolarov; Nainggolan (El Shaarawy 76); Schick (Under 72), Dzeko
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Dembele 85), Pique, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Sergi Roberto, Busquets (Paco Alcacer 85), Rakitic, Iniesta (Andre Gomes 81); Messi, Suarez