AS Roma defeated Barcelona 3-0 to complete one of the biggest UEFA Champions League comebacks in history and advance to the competition’s semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history.
The Blaugrana brought a 4-1 lead to their second leg in Rome, but Edin Dzeko and Daniele De Rossi scored either side of half-time to reduce Roma’s deficit before Kostas Manolas’ 82nd-minute header sealed an away-goals win.
The 4-4 draw means Roma are set to make their maiden appearance in the Champions League semi-finals; their last visit to the last four in the top continental competition was when they finished European Cup runners-up to Liverpool in 1984.
Here are some of the top talking points from Tuesday’s comeback:
Dzeko’s poke, De Rossi’s penalty and a late Manolas header ultimately decided Tuesday’s second leg, but there was hardly a moment where Eusebio Di Francesco’s men didn’t look ferocious in their undertaking.
Barcelona’s midfield was almost missing with a spine of Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, and BT Sport hailed this as a revival of immensely rare proportions:
As aforementioned, the Giallorossi last made it to the last four in the 1983-84 European Cup. With Liverpool advancing past Manchester City in Tuesday’s other quarter-final, football writer Kristan Heneage noted a possible case of deja vu:
While the Serie A title race may not be quite as close as Roma wish it were—they’re currently 21 points off leaders Juventus—Roma can take pride in ousting Barca from the running and look to this display as the cornerstone of bigger things to come.
For a team that came into Tuesday’s Rome clash with only one defeat to their name this season, Barcelona looked timid and surprisingly flustered by the suffocating tactics of opposition manager Di Francesco.
The Blaugrana had conceded only twice in their eight previous European outings this season, and a frail first half in particular saw Ernesto Valverde’s side welcome punishment too close to home, per OptaJose:
If Barcelona looked frazzled after Dzeko’s first, the Catalan outfit seemed to be knocked even further off pace when De Rossi converted a penalty in the 58th minute, per the BBC’s John Bennett:
Valverde’s side didn’t deserve to go through based on what was seen over two legs, relying on two own goals at the Camp Nou before failing to impose themselves at all in Rome during the second leg.
With a European and domestic treble no longer attainable, this result serves as a wake-up call for Barcelona, while the rest of Europe would be wise to pay attention to the power simmering at the Stadio Olimpico.
For those who thought Dzeko’s 2016 departure to Roma from Manchester City was an admission of him taking his talents to a lesser level, see Tuesday’s display as evidence as to why he remains one of the best strikers in world football.
With 19 goals to his name this season before the Stadio Olimpico clash, the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker added to his impressive European record with a crucial breakthrough in the Italian capital:
Dzeko got the better of Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti to streak on to a floated ball and send Tuesday’s opener past Marc-Andre ter-Stegen, in the process entering himself into Roma history books, per Sky Sports Statto:
Gerard Pique and Umtiti each struggled to get the measure of Roma’s frontman, which allowed him almost free reign in offering a platform and lay the foundation for most of the hosts’ precise performance.