UCL:ROMA 3-BARCELONA 0 SHOCK AS BARCELONA EXITS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Not many can claim they saw this coming but ROMA well and truly stunned the sporting world as they came from three behind in the 1st leg to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League in dramatic style last night.
Former City star Edin Dzeko scored the opener six minutes in and Daniele De Rossi netted a penalty with just over half an hour to go.
And Kostas Manolas turned up in the 82nd minute to fire in the the third to become their Greek God in Rome.
Barcelona were on the front foot in the opening exchanges, with Sergi Roberto and Lionel Messi both having chances in the first four minutes.
But it was Roma who broke the deadlock after six minutes when De Rossi’s pin-point pass was met in the box by Dzeko, who got the ball under his spell with a brilliant first touch before prodding past Ter Stegen from six yards.
Barca had an opportunity to hit back less than two minutes later after Juan Jesus tripped the on-rushing Messi 25 yards from goal but the Argentina forward missed the target with the subsequent free-kick.
Roma had a spring in their step and were attacking in numbers as they looked for a quickfire second.
Patrik Schick headed Aleksandar Kolarov’s corner well wide in the 14th minute before Radja Nainggolan shot wide from range as a vociferous home crowd urged their team forward.
Dzeko cleared the bar with his long-range effort in the 25th minute, while it took a well-timed challenge from Gerard Pique to prevent Kolarov from getting a shot away in the box a minute later.
Barcelona looked rattled as Roma pressed with high intensity and threw everything at them when in possession.
Schick nodded Alessandro Florenzi’s searching cross wide from the middle of the area in the 28th minute, while Ter Stegen was forced to tip over Dzeko’s close-range header eight minutes later.
The visitors won another free-kick from shooting range in the 38th minute as Luis Suarez was brought down but once again Messi could not find the target from 25 yards.
Barcelona star Messi had an off day in Rome last night
Roma began the second half as they had finished the first – in complete control – and were awarded a penalty in the 56th minute when Pique fouled Dzeko in the area.
Captain De Rossi rifled the ball beyond Ter Stegen to double Roma’s advantage and the home side were not finished there.
Ter Stegen was called into action once again in the 68th minute to keep Nainggolan at bay before Messi sent his 20-yard shot straight at Alisson six minutes later.
And after substitute Stephan El Shaarawy had been denied by a last-ditch save by Ter Stegen at the back post in the 79th minute, Manolas nodded Cengiz Under’s cross past the German to make it 4-4 on aggregate with eight minutes left to play.
Barcelona threw the kitchen sink at Roma late on but with Messi and Ousmane Dembele unable to convert their chances, Roma held on to complete their unlikely comeback win.
Dzeko said: “I think first of all no one believed in us before the game.
“They gave us five per cent chance but obviously when you play against such a team like Barcelona and lose the first game 4-1, it is hard to believe you can score three goals. But we did it and we did it in style!
“We had to concentrate not to concede, we remembered from the first goal how they scored from just three shots on target.
“From the first goal we believed and the crowd got behind us and I just have to say I am so proud.”