Teenager Zaniolo scores 2 as Roma beats Porto 2-1
ROME (AP) — Nicolo Zaniolo had already made a name for himself in Italy this season. On Tuesday, he introduced himself on the European stage as well.
The 19-year-old Zaniolo became the youngest Italian player to score two goals in a Champions League match as he led Roma to a 2-1 win at home against Porto in the first leg of the round of 16.
Zaniolo had never played a game in Italy’s top flight before this season but has emerged as one of Serie A’s most promising talents since his transfer from Inter Milan last summer as part of the deal which saw Radja Nainggolan move the other way.
And he added his first Champions League goals by netting the 70th and 76th minute for Roma, before Adrian Lopez pulled one back for Porto three minutes later to give the visitors hope ahead of the return leg on March 6.
“It’s a memorable night that I will never forget in my life,” Zaniolo said. “Celebrating under the Curva Sud was an incredible emotion, I hope I will score many more important goals for Roma.
“The late goal we conceded can be tricky for us ahead of the return leg but we will just continue working hard to try finishing the job in Portugal.”
Zaniolo received his first call-up to the senior Italy team in September, even before making his Serie A debut.
“Zaniolo will become a real champion, not just according to me but according to everyone,” Roma captain Daniele De Rossi said. “His physical strength is incredible for a guy of his age and he combines it with great technique.”
The opening goal came after Edin Dzeko knocked down Stephan El Shaarawy’s cross for Zaniolo to drill past Iker Casillas and into the far bottom corner. The teenager doubled his tally by tapping in the rebound after Dzeko’s shot came off the left post.
It was the second time Dzeko had hit the post.
Porto, which was undefeated in the Champions League this season, got a valuable away goal with a bit of luck when Tiqinho Soares’s effort was so poor that it bounced into the air and turned into an assist for Lopez, who fired into the far corner.
“In our own stadium, in front of our own fans, we’ve still got what it takes to go through,” Pepe said.
Video review was being used for the first time in the Champions League and it was called into play in the 18th minute but a check ruled that Pepe’s handball in the penalty area was unintentional.
In the night’s other Champions League match, Ole Solskjaer suffered his first defeat as Manchester United coach as his side lost 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain.
Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe scored for PSG in the second half, while Paul Pogba was sent off late on following two yellow cards.