Roma knock Barcelona out of CL with remarkable comeback
ROME (AP) Roma pulled off an extraordinary comeback to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League on Tuesday, winning 3-0 at home to reach the semifinals by overturning a three-goal deficit from the first leg.
Roma advanced on away goals despite losing 4-1 in the first leg of the quarterfinals.
Center back Kostas Manolas scored the decisive goal with a header from a corner in the 82nd minute amid a deafening atmosphere inside the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco acknowledged before the match that his team needed a ”miracle” to advance, and they got the start they needed when when Edin Dzeko controlled an over-the-top pass between two defenders after six minutes and poked in his sixth goal in this season’s competition.
Then near the hour mark, Dzeko earned a penalty that Daniele De Rossi converted to set the stage for Manolas’ late header.
Roma capitalized on its aerial threat through Dzeko and Patrik Schick and its stifling defense forced Barcelona into a series of uncharacteristic misplaced passes.
It’s the first time that Roma has reached the last four since it lost the 1984 final to Liverpool on penalties in its own stadium – and it’s the third straight year that Barcelona has been eliminated at this stage.
Only two clubs had previously overturned at least a three-goal first-leg deficit in the Champions League – Deportivo La Coruna beat AC Milan 4-0 after losing the opening leg 4-1 in the 2004 quarterfinals and Barcelona routed Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 after losing the first game 4-0 in last season’s Round of 16.
Roma captain Daniele De Rossi set up Dzeko’s goal with a straight ball and the Bosnian striker muscled off defenders to shoot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen with his left foot.
Barcelona’s only real chances of the first half came from two free kicks, both of which Messi missed high.
Suarez was so frustrated at times for not receiving enough balls that he slammed both hands on the pitch on one occasion.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Roma fans protested for a perceived hand ball inside the area but it appeared that Samuel Umtiti used his chest to deflect a shot from Schick.
Dzeko was at it again after the break with a show of brute force, shrugging off Gerard Pique and Umtiti to approach the goal. Pique then grabbed Dzeko’s left arm and tugged the striker to the ground.
The referee didn’t immediately point to the spot but then showed a yellow to Pique and awarded the penalty.
De Rossi confidently struck the spot kick inside the right post and even though Ter Stegen leaped in the right direction the goalkeeper had no chance.
It was De Rossi’s first Champions League goal since October 2015.
Roma substitute Stephan El Shaarawy had a chance at Roma’s third in the 79th but Ter Stegen produced a brilliant save to deny the striker from close range.
But three minutes later, the Barcelona goalkeeper had no chance when Manolas headed inside the far post.
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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf