Roger Ibanez crashed home a spectacular volley two minutes from time to give AS Roma a come-from-behind 2-1 away win over Ajax in their Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday.
A missed penalty and a horror goalkeeping slip cost Ajax dearly as they lost a half-time lead and now face a tough task in next Thursday’s return leg in Rome.
Ajax went ahead from Davy Klaassen’s goal six minutes before half-time and should have doubled the lead soon after the break but Dusan Tadic's penalty was saved.
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Lorenzo Pellegrini equalised with a 57th-minute free kick, which slipped through the hands of Ajax’s 21-year-old back-up goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen.
Ibanez secured the last-gasp win as he chested down a poorly cleared corner before slamming the ball home from close range.
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Roma showed more early intent as Bryan Cristante‘s long-range effort swerved dangerously and produced a full stretch save from Scherpen, deputising for veteran Maarten Stelekenburg who missed out on playing against his old club because of injury.
Cristante shot over crossbar from much closer at the end of an elaborate free kick routine but it was Ajax who broke the deadlock in the 39th minute, from a move that began in their own half.
A series of swift passes put them quickly on the edge of the Roma penalty box and when defender Gianluca Mancini backed off, it allowed Klaassen time to play a one-two with Tadic before sweeping home from close range.
Antony miscued from a similar distance when another Tadic pass presented the young Brazilian forward with an ideal opportunity to double the home team’s lead.
Tadic was bundled over by Ibanez and got up to take the 52nd-minute penalty but hit the ball at comfortable height for Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez to parry away.
Roma took full advantage of the let-off to equalise five minutes later as Pellegrini’s free kick squirmed out of Scherpen’s grasp for a soft goal.
Lopez made another excellent stop to deny substitute Brian Brobbey in the 69th minute and tipped Antony’s volleyed effort over the top before Ibanez’s late heroics put the Serie A side in control of the tie.
Villarreal took a big step towards reaching the Europa League last four after a first-half penalty from forward Gerard Moreno gave them a 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb in their quarter-final first leg on Thursday.
Moreno sent goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic the wrong way with a coolly taken spot-kick in the 44th minute after his cross from the left hit Kevin Teophile-Catherine on the arm.
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Dinamo staged a major upset to reach the last eight with a 3-2 aggregate win over Tottenham Hotspur but never looked like repeating a stunning 3-0 second-leg win over the Premier League side as they lacked ideas and cutting edge.
The Croatian side were confined to a handful of long-range efforts while their Spanish rivals missed several chances to win by a bigger margin, with substitute Paco Alcacer dragging a close-range shot wide in the 65th minute.
A deflected shot by Manuel Trigueros drew a fingertip save from Livakovic as the visitors found gaps in Dinamo's half with the home side throwing men forward.
Villarreal were let off the hook in the 26th minute when Mislav Orsic, who bagged a hat-trick against Spurs, had a goal disallowed for offside in the build-up.
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