Sunday 22 April 2018

Dzeko hails 'special' Roma self-belief as Barça stunned

Roma 3 Barcelona 0 (4-4 on agg, Roma go through on away goals)

Roma's Edin Dzeko. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters
Roma's Edin Dzeko. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Independent.ie newsdesk

Roma striker Edin Dzeko hailed his team's self-belief after they overcame a 4-1 first-leg deficit to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League last night.

The Italians secured a dramatic 3-0 victory over the Catalans at the Stadio Olimpico to book their place in the semi-finals on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate result.

Roma went ahead on the night after six minutes as Dzeko latched on to Daniele de Rossi's long-range pass before poking the ball beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

De Rossi doubled their lead from the penalty spot after Dzeko had been brought down in the box early in the second half and Kostas Manolas headed in late on to clinch Roma's spot in the final four.

"It is difficult to believe but we did it and did it in style," Dzeko said. "Nobody believed in us before the game - they gave us a 5pc chance of winning - but against such a team like Barcelona, you expect that after losing the first game 4-1.

"We had to be concentrated not to concede a goal. We remembered the first game where they scored four goals from three shots on target as we scored two own goals.

Roma's Konstantinos Manolas celebrates with Kevin Strootman at the end of the match. Photo: Alberto Lingria/Reuters
Roma's Konstantinos Manolas celebrates with Kevin Strootman at the end of the match. Photo: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

History

"It was great teamwork from the first to the last minute. It is the first time in history to knock out Barcelona 3-0 and that makes it even more special," he added

Barcelona were on the front foot in the opening exchanges, with Sergi Roberto and Lionel Messi both having chances. But it was Roma who broke the deadlock after six minutes when De Rossi's pass was met in the box by Dzeko with a brilliant first touch before he prodded past Ter Stegen.

Barça had an opportunity to hit back less than two minutes later after Juan Jesus tripped the on-rushing Messi 25 yards from goal but the Argentine missed the target with the free-kick.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: Andrew Medichini/AP Photo
Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: Andrew Medichini/AP Photo

Roma were attacking in numbers as they looked for a second while Barcelona were rattled as Roma pressed with high intensity and threw everything at them when in possession.

Roma then began the second half as they had finished the first - in complete control - and were awarded a penalty in the 56th minute when Pique fouled Dzeko.

Captain De Rossi rifled the ball beyond Ter Stegen to double Roma's advantage and the home side were not finished there.

After substitute Stephan El Shaarawy was denied by Ter Stegen in the 79th minute, Manolas nodded Cengiz Under's cross past the German to make it 4-4 on aggregate with eight minutes left.

Barça threw the kitchen sink at Roma late on but with Messi and Ousmane Dembele unable to convert their chances, Roma held on for an unlikely comeback win.

Irish Independent

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