Roma 3-0 Barcelona (agg 4-4): shock ?I Giallorossi comeback stuns Barça
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
Nothing is certain in football and anything can happen in the Champions League. The giants can be humbled, the underdogs triumphant, and supporters ready to celebrate or drown their sorrows. It took Barcelona 87 minutes to build a mountain for Roma to climb in the Champions League quarter-final first leg. It looked like the Serie A side's fate had been sealed before they hosted Barça at Stadio Olimpico, but they were in no mood for hospitality when they conjured up an amazing comeback.
Eusebio Di Francesco's side became only the third team in Champions League history to overcome a three-goal deficit in the second leg. The visitors achieved this feat last season when they overcome a 4-0 drubbing against Paris Saint-Germain with a 6-1 victory in the return tie during the last-16. Deportivo La Coruna were the last side before Barca to do it in 2004 when they turned round a 4-1 defeat in the first leg, recovering with a 4-0 win.
Roma had to overcome a 4-1 defeat in the return tie, but the Italian team had the away goals rule their advantage, after Edin Džeko netted in the 80th minute at Camp Nou in the first leg. The impossible dream started to kindle when Džeko struck in the sixth minute. The Bosnian striker latched on to a long ball from captain Daniele De Rossi, looping the ball over the defenders from near the halfway line. Džeko took one touch to control it, before poking the ball home past goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
The former Manchester City striker was causing problems for the Catalan side all evening. He was felled in the box by Gerard Pique just before the hour mark. Up stepped De Rossi, looking for redemption after scoring an own goal in the previous tie, to take the penalty. Though ter Stegen dived the right way, the goalkeeper could not get a hand to the cool and powerful spot-kick from the Roma captain.
Substitute Stephan El Shaarawy nearly caught Barça off-guard as he reacted to a cross from Alessandro Florenzi. The Italian forward was ready to pounce from the back post, hitting a close-range shot that forced ter Stegen to produce an excellent save.
Roma needed just one more goal to draw level with their La Liga opponents on aggregate, but advance to the Champions League semi-final thanks to the away goal rule. After going agonisingly close minutes earlier from El Shaarawy's shot, they were more clinical from a Cengiz Ünder corner minutes later. Kostas Manolas was on hand - or head - to glance in a header at the near-post in the 82nd minute.
Roma will find out who they face next in the Champions League with the semi-final draw at midday on Friday. The semi-final first legs will take place on Tuesday, April 24 and Wednesday, April 25 - with the return ties played the following week.