Plzen pleasure: Dzeko scores 3 more against favorite target
The Bosnia and Herzegovina striker netted a hat trick to raise his tally to nine goals in eight matches against the Czech side as Roma revived its Champions League campaign with a 5-0 rout on Tuesday.
"I know them well," a grinning Dzeko said. "I have played against them in the Czech Republic before."
Turkey winger Cengiz Under added another for Roma — having previously hit the crossbar — and 19-year-old forward Justin Kluivert also knocked in a rebound.
In the Europa League two years ago, Dzeko scored a hat trick for Roma against Plzen. He also got two against Plzen in the Champions League while with Manchester City in the 2013-14 group phase. His other goals against Plzen came when Dzeko played in the Czech Republic for Teplice from 2005-07.
A surprise semifinalist last season, Roma is building confidence after its emotional 3-1 win over Lazio in the Rome derby on Saturday.
Having been thoroughly outclassed by three-time defending champion Real Madrid in the Group G opener, Roma is back in the battle for the knockout rounds.
CSKA Moscow, which beat Madrid 1-0 in Tuesday's other group match, leads with four points. Roma and Madrid have three points each and Plzen is last with one.
"We're still nowhere close to our maximum potential," Dzeko said.
Dzeko can speak Czech fluently and he was quick to seize upon holes in Plzen's defense.
The first goal came when Dzeko was set up by Aleksandar Kolarov to beat the offside trap three minutes in, enabling the Roma No. 9 to place a shot in the far bottom corner.
Under, Roma's 21-year-old winger, rocked the goalframe with a long shot near the half-hour mark and Kluivert then protested to no avail for a penalty when the ball appeared to go off a defender's arm.
Before the break, Dzeko scored his second with an expert chest control and half volley from close range following a cross from Under. He nearly had another later on but goalkeeper Matus Kozacik denied him with his boot.
Under scored with an angled shot after being set up by Lorenzo Pellegrini, who maintained his exceptional form from the derby.
Pellegrini also helped set up Roma's fourth goal with a cross-field pass to Under, whose shot was palmed away by Kozacik into the path of the waiting Kluivert.
Kluivert — the son of former Netherlands standout Patrick Kluivert — became the youngest Roma player to score in the Champions League.
After Kluivert scored, he held up a shirt featuring the name of former Ajax teammate Abdelhak Nouri, who recently emerged from a year-long coma.
Dzeko completed his hat trick in stoppage time by rising above the defense for a header from a corner.
Dzeko has now scored eight goals in his last seven Champions League appearances; ending a six-match scoreless streak in all competitions.