5 TALKING POINTS! Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 Agg): Kostas Manolas Heads Home To Dump Catalan Giants Out On Away Goals

5 TALKING POINTS! Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 Agg): Kostas Manolas Heads Home To Dump Catalan Giants Out On Away Goals

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Rampant Roma stunned Barcelona by scoring a huge victory to come back from 4-1 down in the first leg and reach the Champions League semi-finals on away goals.

The Italians took just six minutes to go ahead with Edin Dzeko beating both Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti to Daniele De Ross’s lofted through-ball and poking past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Roma pushed for a second and Ter Stegen had to tip Dzeko’s header over for a corner, with the striker heading that wide of the far post.

The deserved second goal came in the 58th minute when Dzeko battled his way into the area and was tripped by a desperate Gerard Pique.

Daniele De Rossi slammed home from the penalty spot to put Roma within one goal of qualifying, which arrived when Kostas Manolas headed home in the 82nd minute.

Here are five things we learned from the game…

1) Barcelona form sinks at crucial moment

The Catalans were on the verge of the Champions League semi-finals, 11 points clear at the top of La Liga and in the Copa del Rey final. Things were looking rosy.

Instead Barcelona and their fans are worrying about a drop off in form which has wrecked their treble bid.

This was coming. Their performance against Sevilla was extremely poor and despite a flattering scoreline, were not at their best in the first leg of this tie.

Sevilla looked like being their worst game of the season, until this sloppy, switched-off display at the Olimpico happened on Tuesday night.

After a lamentable first half in which they offered nothing bar a couple of Messi free-kicks which sailed high over the bar, most expected Ernesto Valverde to give his men an ear-bashing at the break and for them to come out fired up.

But instead, Roma continued to dominate and deservedly went 2-0 up, and then three.

2) Valverde’s inaction

Barcelona fans haven’t had a great deal to complain about when it comes to Ernesto Valverde.

Despite the crisis the club was on the verge of plunging into the summer, the former Bilbao boss has helped pull them to the verge of a potential treble.

However few Barca fans could understand what the coach was playing at against Roma, watching his team played off the pitch but not taking any action to stop it.

With Roma two goals to the good and Barcelona looking tired and out of ideas, the coach could have turned to his bench.

Ousmane Dembele might have added more ideas in attack, instead of the lifeless Suarez, who hasn’t scored on the road in the Champions League since 2015 — coincidentally away at Roma.

Paulinho could have added beef to the midfield and disrupted Roma’s surges forward, Denis Suarez might have added more control, Thomas Vermaelen could have man-marked the rampant Dzeko.

But Valverde did nothing as the minutes ticked down.

3) Edin back to the top

English football fans have mixed opinions on Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko after his five seasons at Manchester City. He was useful, if inconsistent.

However he has found a home at Roma over the past three years and is now scoring more consistently than he ever did in the Premier League.

Chelsea tried to sign Dzeko in the January window but eventually brought in Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud. If they had got the Roma man, perhaps they would still be in the Champions League—they had plenty of chances against Barcelona in the last 16 but nobody to put them away.

In the first leg of this clash Dzeko was a handful for Barcelona, meriting at least one, if not two penalties, as well as netting the away goal which gave Roma some hope in this game.

Then he left Barcelona’s defence scratching their heads and Ter Stegen to pick the ball out of his net after just six minutes here, driving through to break the deadlock.

At the start of the second half, Dzeko showed great strength to fight off Pique and then was fouled by the defender, leading to Roma’s second goal, Di Rossi’s penalty.

Even though Dzeko is 32, he has comprehensively proven that he still has to offer at this level, and it would be no surprise if another big side tried to prise him away from the Italian capital in the summer.

4) Jesus lucky

While in the first leg Barcelona were fortunate that Dzeko wasn’t given a penalty or two, here Roma were lucky when left-back Juan Jesus committed an ugly foul on Lionel Messi, which some referees might have shown a straight red for.

Jesus then got away with swinging his arm into Luis Suarez’s face, which should have seen him go in the book for a second time.

However when it comes to fortune Barcelona can’t complain about their luck in this tournament.

After all, Chelsea hit the woodwork four times against them over two ties, while with better finishing and more favourable refereeing, Roma in the first leg could have taken home a much better scoreline.

5) Only disappointment remains

While wrenching the league title back from Real Madrid is a good accomplishment, yet again Barcelona will end a season with a sour taste in the mouth.

The Champions League is the trophy they are desperate to win, having seen rivals Real lift it two seasons running.

Barcelona will likely wrap up the title in the next couple of weeks and make it a double if they beat Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final.

However they will be watching the Champions League final in Kiev with jealousy, from the sofa.

And what will make it even worse is if Real Madrid find their way there once again.


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