Roma complete sensational turn around to dump Barcelona out of Champions League

Roma completed one of the most historic victories in Champions League history, as they thrashed Barcelona 3-0 to secure a 4-4 away goals victory at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Giallorossi dominated the first half and barely allowed their opponents a touch of the ball. Indeed, the brave approach paid dividends early on, as Edin Dzeko latched on to a fine Daniele De Rossi long ball to fire them ahead.

De Rossi then despatched a second half penalty to take the Lupi to within a single strike of a sensational comeback. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Kostas Manolas met a Cengiz Under corner to plant his header into the far corner and complete a truly incredible comeback, securing Roma an unlikely spot in the Semi-Finals.

Despite Roma enjoying early possession, it was Barcelona who came closest to breaking the deadlock. Gerard Pique collected a loose ball in defence before launching upfield, and after Luis Suarez had chested down to him, Messi released Sergi Roberto in the box. The midfielder could only fire at Alisson however.

The effort served as a wake up call and allowed Roma to get off to a blistering start. With barely seven minutes on the clock the Giallorossi were ahead on the night, as Dzeko timed his run off Samuel Umtiti’s shoulder before bringing down De Rossi’s inch-perfect long range pass and poking past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Barcelona were rattled, with Dzeko in a bullish mood. The Bosnian refused to give up on a loose ball to rob Umtiti and force a corner. Aleksandar Kolarov’s wicked delivery was headed just over by Patrik Schick.

The hosts were provided all of the attacking impetus and came close to narrowing the aggregate lead midway through the first half. Radja Nainggolan found Dzeko in the area, who cut back for the onrushing Kolarov to bear down on Ter Stegen. Only a desperate Gerard Pique sliding tackle prevented a clear sight of goal.

Roma ought to have doubled their lead on the night as they were presented with a golden opportunity on the half hour mark. Federico Fazio delivered a wonderful cross from the right that evaded Barcelona’s defence, only for the unmarked Schick to send a free header past the post.

Dzeko was causing all sorts of problems for the Catalan outfit, and the Bosnia international rose above Nelson Semedo to meet Alessandro Florenzi’s looping cross to force a smart one-handed save.

The Blaugrana were awarded a dangerous freekick on the edge of the box, as Fazio clumsily brought Suarez down. After a lengthy delay, Messi took aim but fired well over the bar.

The second half began at breakneck speed, as Roma continued to pepper Barcelona’s penalty area with crosses, and the visitors sought to break on the counterattack.

After waves of attacks, Roma’s positivite approach paid off, courtesy of Dzeko once more. A smart Nainggolan flick over the top of the defence sent the striker through, and Dzeko showed superb strength to hold Pique off with his back to goal, before turning and forcing the Spaniard to drag him down and concede a penalty.

With the pressure on, captain De Rossi stepped up to smash the spot kick to his right beyond Ter Stegen, who got a palm to the strike but could not keep it out.

Roma continued to pour forward in search of a crucial third, and had Barcelona penned in. A hopeful Strootman ball into the box was sidefooted on target by a tumbling Nainggolan, but Ter Stegen got down well to stop. Moments later, Fazio whipped in to a crowded area and De Rossi evaded Jordi Alba at the far post, only to see his header skim inches wide.

The Blaugrana finally fashioned another chance midway through the second period, as Messi skipped beyond Manolas but fired at Alisson.

At the other end Ter Stegen came to Barcelona’s rescue with a fine block. Florenzi collected Dzeko’s touch on before floating a cross to the back post. Stephan El Shaarawy threw himself at it and met the ball with his outstretched foot, but a superb parry from point blank range denied the substitute.

Only a minute later the Giallorossi completed their incredible comeback. Under’s whipped corner was guided home in style by Manolas at the front post, giving Ter Stegen no chance. The header saw the Stadio Olimpico erupt as the Lupi’s bench piled on top of Manolas.

It was Barcelona’s turn to push forward as they went for broke. Messi cut inside to square it for Suarez, but Fazio read the move to lunge in front of the Uruguayan and clear. Roma almost squandered the match in stoppage time, as Alisson dashed off his line to clear from Messi, but Dembele lofted from range towards the open goal, only to see the ball land on the roof of the net.

Ultimately the Lupi held on and reached a first Champions League Semi-Final, completing a sensational victory,

Forza Italian Football

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