AS Roma defied massive odds and overturned a three-goal deficit against Barcelona to reach the semi-final of the Champions league.
While Rome may not have been built in one day, it took only ninety minutes of football to become the centre of the one of the greatest stories in European football.
Goals from Edin Dzeko, Daniele de Rossi and Kostas Manolas sealed a 3-0 win over the La Liga champions-elect to level the aggregate score 4-4, winning the quarter-final on away goals.
It was a night of redemption for Greek defender Manolas and Roma’s stalwart De Rossi. Both had conceded own goals at Nou Camp that looked to have cemented Barcelona’s place in the semifinal. However, they were the central figures in Roma’s miracle on Tuesday night.
Dezko proved he still is one of the most potent striker in football, with the former Manchester City striker directly involved in the first two gaols. The 32-year-old provided the opener by getting the better of Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti to camly finish a De Rossi’s ball into the box. Early in the second-half, the Bosnian was brought down by Gerrard Pique after he had managed to pull away from the defender, earning his side a penalty. De Rossi, whose pass resulted in Pique’s foul, made no mistake from the spot to bring the aggregate score to 3-4.
The final nail in the coffin arrived in the 81st minute, with Manolas producing a glancing header from a corner to complete the incredible.
Barcelona had been beaten only once this season so far and remained unbeaten in the Champions League, until last night. The 4-1 scoreline victory at Nou Camp flattered Lionel Messi and his side. But luck ran out for them at the Stadio Olimpico.
Last year, Barcelona had stunned Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, advancing despite a 4-0 away thrashing. The shoe was on the other foot this time. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde warned that the “extraordinary” was a possibility last week. Roma played out the possibility.
This is the first time Roma have made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League since 1984. They had to become the third side in Champions League history to stage a comeback from three goals down in the first-leg to do so. Now, they’re potentially three games away from doing the unthinkable.