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AS Roma pulled off an astounding second-leg comeback to beat Barcelona 3-0 and reach the Champions League semi-finals on away goals.
With Barca 4-1 ahead on aggregate after a comfortable Camp Nou victory in the first leg, Roma went all-out attack from the blow of the whistle. The early pressure and intensity paid off as Eden Dzeko rolled the ball past Barcelona goalkeeper with a neat finish in the 6th minute.
Barcelona laboured both on and off the ball, with Lionel Messi failing to inspire his team. The Catalan giants looked rattled as Roma threw everything on the line when in possession. Somehow, Ernesto Valverde’s men kept the Italian outfit in check, heading into half-time.
Roma began the second half just like they had finished the first – in complete control, and were awarded a penalty when Gerard Pique bundled Dzeko in the box. Skipper De Rossi stepped up and scored the penalty in the 58th minute to put the hosts within one goal of reaching the semi-finals.
Substitute Stephan El Shaarawy was heroically denied by Ter Stegen at the back post but the Barcelona goalkeeper was left rooted at the spot when Kostas Manolas nodded home Cengiz Under’s cross to spark jubilant scenes at Stadio Olimpico.
Ter Stegen was let down by his Barcelona teammates and could perhaps be the only player who can be proud of his performance. He made a couple of vital saves but eventually, they weren’t enough.
Semedo endured a tough night against Roma’s left-back Aleksandar Kolarov. He was the one who should have covered Manolas for the third goal. A performance to forget for the young Portuguese.
Pique looked like the only Barcelona defender who was making tackles and clearances. Outwitted by Dzeko, he lost his ground and then tripped the Roma striker, with De Rossi hammering the resultant penalty.
Umtiti has been subpar in 2018 and his poor form continued against Roma. He got bullied by Dzeko and on the day when his club needed him the most, he simply disappeared. One of the Frenchman’s worst nights as a Barcelona player.
Alba was also far from his best and didn’t have much going forward. Defensively, he was all over the place as he went asleep for Roma’s first goal.
It was evident that Busquets was playing through pain. He was completely dominated in the midfield. He failed to exude the calmness which he is generally known for, with De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan bullying him.
Ivan Rakitic – 3/10
Rakitic was ineffective and lacked the dynamism in the midfield against Roma’s players. He hardly got any chance to enforce his style of play in the middle of the park.
Iniesta never got in the game, failing to thread passes or link up with the forwards. He was simply unproductive against Roma’s energetic and attacking play.
Roberto was rarely involved in the game, failing to influence the game from the right of Barcelona’s midfield.
When the chips were down, Barcelona expected their talisman to bail them out of misery. Sadly, Messi failed to deliver as he sent two free-kicks sailing over the bar in the first-half. The Argentine had little moments after the break but rarely threatened. He never really turned up.
On a night when his presence and intensity was required, Suarez was invisible. The Roma defence simply had an easy day against one of the most lethal strikers in the world.
Came on for Iniesta but failed to influence his team.
He entered the field with just five minutes left on the clock. It was too little, too late.
It was a very late substitution that meant nothing.