Barcelona knocked out by astonishing three-goal AS Roma comeback
Champions League, Stadio Olimpico - AS Roma 3 (Dzeko 6, De Rossi 58, Manolas 82) Barcelona 0
Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now! In a miserable, nefarious world, at least we'll always have football - and what football this was. After losing the first leg 4-1, Roma produced a performance of devastating brilliance and intensity to eject Barcelona on away goals, and deservedly so. What a game, what a sport.
From the off, Roma and the Olimpico were possessed, pressing the ball and attacking in numbers. It took them just six minutes to reduce their arrears, Edin Dzeko - who had a fine game - controlling a long ball to poke home. And the pressure continued all the way through the first half, Barca barely mustering an attack - and yet, Ernesto Valverde did nothing at half-time but hope that his team improved.
They did not. Instead, on 57 minutes, Gerard Pique panicked when bullied yet again by Dzeko, pulling him down to concede a needless penalty; Daniele De Rossi converted confidently. Yet still, Valverde did nothing while, as time ran out, Eusebio Di Francesco threw on more strikers - but his team did not panic.
Then, with eight minutes left, Aleksandr Kolarov curled a wicked corner to the front post, where Kostas Manolas leapt to flick an unstoppable winner past Marc Ter Stegen. The Olimpico duly went as wild as you'd hope and expect, and though Barca briefly flurried, Roma stood firm and forced their way through to the last four. Playing like this, they, and their support, are a tough night for anyone.
What are Barcelona doing? Their 4-4-2 formation gave them no control in midfield and with Luis Suarez horribly out of form and Andres Iniesta horribly old, they were banking on Lionel Messi to conjure something at some point. Even when things were so obviously going wrong, Ernesto Valverde changed nothing, and they thoroughly deserved what they got. As brilliant though Roma were, it was not made as hard for them as it should have been.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Edin Dzeko (Roma) There were plenty of strong candidates - Fazio and Manolas were great, Florenzi and Strootman too. But Dzeko scored one, won the penalty for the second, and generally held the ball up, bullying Umtiti and Pique. A magnificent display.
- Roma are the third side in Champions League history to overturn a first leg deficit of three goals of more. The other are Deportivo (v Milan in 2003-04) and Barcelona (v PSG in 2016-17)
- Daniele De Rossi is the first person to score and assist against Barcelona in the Champions League since Thomas Muller scored two and made one in April 2013.
6’ - GOAL! Roma 1-0 Barcelona (Dzeko) agg 2-4 Now then! Strootman clips a decent ball over the top - it's straight, but Dzeko steals a march on Jordi Alba with a lovely take which also brings him across Umtiti who can't catch up! With Ter Stegen stranded, he pokes home the opener and we have ourselves a ball-game!
57’ - PENALTY ROMA! A long pass finds Dzeko, who brings it down back to goal and gets around Pique on the half-turn, who tugs him down when there was no need so to do! At first it looks like the ref says no, but then he points to the spot and here we go!
58’ - GOAL! Roma 2-0 Barcelona (De Rossi pen) agg 3-4) "Within one!" screeches Peter Drury, as De Rossi opens his body to punch into the right side of the net, a third of the way up. That was very confidently done, and Roma are suddenly favourites!
82’ - GOAL! Roma 3-0 Barcelona (Manolas) agg 4-4 "ROMA HAVE RISEN FROM THEIR RUINS!" They win a corner down the right, it's brilliantly curled to the near post by Kolarov, and Manolas times his run perfectly, flicking hard and fast and enjoying the celebration like you must! "It's the Greek from Mount Olympus coming to the seven hills of Rome!" The home side lead on away goals! FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL! Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now!