Daniele De Rossi, Kostas Manolas own goals doom Roma at Barcelona
Roma’s European dream came to an end at the hands of a Barcelona team that is so clinical it doesn’t even need its own players to shoot to score four times and sink a tie in the first leg. Two deeply unfortunate own goals either side of half-time from Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas put the spirited Giallorossi on the precipice and when Gerard Pique tapped home the third Roma were left with one foot out of the competition.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side didn’t let their heads drop despite their bad luck, and after Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a superb save on Gregoire Defrel, Edin Dzeko pulled one back with 10 minutes left. Roma had their tails up and Barca on the back foot, but a clumsy first touch from substitute Maxime Gonalons allowed Luis Suarez to end his Champions League drought and put the away side back in the bin.
As well as the two own goals — one a pinpoint sliding strike from captain De Rossi seven minutes before the break and the other, 10 minutes after half-time, a bizarre effort from Manolas that saw him first hit the post and then knee the ball over the line — Roma can also count themselves unlucky to not have been given a first-half penalty for what looked like a clear trip on Dzeko as he closed in on goal. But no matter — Barca weren’t three goals better on the night, but they are better, and save for a miracle at the Stadio Olimpico they are in semifinals.
Going three goals down would be enough to completely flatten even the best sides but Roma kept at it and were unlucky to not pull one back before Dzeko finally got the Giallorossi the goal they deserved. Ter Stegen also did well to keep out Defrel’s effort and a superb curling strike from Diego Perotti.
What can be said about a performance at the Camp Nou that surprised everyone for its enthusiasm and application but left Roma three goals down halfway through the tie? This is not a vintage Barca team despite their record this season and Roma did their best to press and harry their opponents. When you’re score two ludicrous own goals and give away a fourth as daft as Roma did tonight, what’s the point?
6 — Di Francesco set his team up to pressure Barca rather than sit back, and did it without Radja Nainggolan crashing about in midfield. His attacking substitutions almost paid off despite the unflattering final scoreline.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 7 — Saved everything that he could have been expected to save.
DF Bruno Peres, 6 — Didn’t do bad at all against two of the world’s best players. A pleasant surprise.
DF Kostas Manolas, 6 — A good display ruined by a comical own goal and the other three goals his team conceded.
DF Federico Fazio, 6 — Made very few errors, just like his partner. The blame for the goals lies elsewhere.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 6 — A threat going forward. It’s a shame that more wasn’t made of his dangerous deliveries.
MF Kevin Strootman, 6 — The Dutchman was in and out of the game. Hasn’t been at his best for months.
MF Daniele De Rossi, 6 — A frankly incredible own goal shouldn’t take away from a creditable performance.
MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, 5 — Not 100 percent fit and it showed. Poor distribution apart from the ball that led to Dzeko being brought down in the area.
FW Alessandro Florenzi, 6 — Should have had an assist when Perotti somehow headed his great cross wide. Ran a lot. Like a lot.
FW Edin Dzeko, 7 — Took his goal excellently and should have had a penalty with the game still goalless. A threat all night.
FW Diego Perotti, 5 — A lovely pass for Dzeko’s goal but missed a golden chance with Roma just a goal down at the start of the second half
MF Maxime Gonalons, 4 — Killed the game for his team by handing Suarez the chance to score Barca’s fourth.
MF Stephen El Shaarawy, NR — Added some fresh legs when Roma needed to look for a goal.
FW Gregoire Defrel, NR — Had his chance of glory thwarted by Ter Stegen.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC’s AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley
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