Roma beats Barcelona 3-0 in one of the greatest Champions League comebacks; Liverpool downs Man City


Updated

April 11, 2018 10:25:22

AS Roma pulled off one of the great Champions League comebacks, knocking Barcelona out with a remarkable 3-0 win in their quarter-final second leg.

The Italian side overturned a 4-1 deficit from the first game to reach the last four on away goals.

Roma’s Kostas Manolas headed the decisive third goal in the 82nd minute, putting the Italians in the semi-finals for the first time since they reached the European Cup final in 1984 and making amends for his own goal in the first leg at the Nou Camp.

Roma forward Edin Dzeko opened the scoring when he beat the offside trap and latched onto a perfectly weighted through ball from Daniele De Rossi to score in the sixth minute, lifting the hopes of the boisterous home fans in the Olympic Stadium.

Captain De Rossi converted a penalty in the 58th minute for the hosts, before Manolas’ goal sent the stands into delirium.

“This would be a great triumph for any team, but for Roma and considering our story in European competitions, it’s truly incredible,” De Rossi said.

“We knew it would be difficult, but we had that little bit of belief. The first leg showed us Barcelona had a lot of quality, but not as much as a few years ago. We knew the gap between us and them wasn’t 4-1.”

Barca fielded the same team that thrashed Roma in the first leg with the help of two own goals, and were overwhelming favourites to go through.

But the five-times European champions barely got a foothold in the game after falling behind to Dzeko’s opener.

The Spanish club has been in scintillating form all season, losing just three games since the start of the season in August, and had not lost since a 1-0 Spanish Cup defeat to Espanyol on January 17.

Barcelona has won 24 and drawn seven from 31 fixtures as clear leaders of the Spanish league, while winning six and drawing three Champions League games this season.

Great comebacks in Champions League history

It was a reversal of fortune for Barcelona, who last year pulled off the greatest comeback in Champions League history by overcoming a 4-0 loss to Paris St Germain (PSG).

In that tie, Barcelona won 6-1 at their storied home ground, including three goals in the final few minutes, to down the French giants 6-5 on aggregate.

Barcelona join PSG and AC Milan (eliminated by Deportivo La Coruna in 2004) as the only teams to have been knocked out after winning the first leg by at least three goals.

Milan, who were defending champions at the time and had not conceded an away goal in the competition up to that point, led 4-1 after the first leg before going down 4-0 away in Spain.

Liverpool stun Manchester City

Liverpool reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 10 years as Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino struck decisive blows to secure a 2-1 win over Manchester City that completed a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, City manager Pep Guardiola had said his team needed to produce a “perfect game” at the Etihad Stadium if they were to achieve a famous comeback.

And for 45 minutes they were not far off that level.

Gabriel Jesus scored for the hosts after two minutes to fill the home fans with hope, and Guardiola’s side launched wave after wave of attacks to pin Liverpool back.

Yet it was Liverpool whose approach turned out to be perfect in the circumstances as they followed up some staunch first-half defending to level through Salah in the 56th minute and seal the tie through Firmino 13 minutes from fulltime, clinching their third win against City this season.

City can look back with some pride though on their first-half performance. They needed an early goal to set the mood and they got exactly that, as well as endless tests of the Liverpool defence.

All City’s breathless efforts were undone when Liverpool got the crucial away goal — Sadio Mane burst into the box, City keeper Ederson dived at his feet but the ball spilled out to Salah who took his time before coolly converting.

The goal left City needing to score four without reply to progress, and 10 minutes later they threw on club-record scorer Sergio Aguero in the hope of a miracle.

Yet any lingering questions over who would advance to the last four were ended when Firmino robbed a sloppy Nicolas Otamendi and slotted past Ederson.

Guardiola, watching in the stands, put his head in his hands as his side’s European campaign ended.

ABC/wires

Topics:

soccer,

sport,

italy

First posted

April 11, 2018 10:17:15





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