Roma were left with bitter regrets at Camp Nou, as they gifted Barcelona four goals and Edin Dzeko’s strike barely keeps Champions League hopes alive.
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The Giallorossi had already surprised Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League this season, so were eager to cause another upset in their first quarter-final for a decade against perhaps the favourites to win the tournament. Cengiz Under and Radja Nainggolan were out injured, but Lorenzo Pellegrini returned from his muscular problem to start with Alessandro Florenzi in a more advanced attacking role. Philippe Coutinho was cup-tied with Lucas Digne, Aleix Vidal and Yerry Mina unavailable.
Luis Suarez had his angled drive in the back of the net after seven minutes, but was clearly a couple of yards offside. Edin Dzeko went down in the box under a clumsy Nelson Semedo challenge, but the referee waved play on.
Lionel Messi’s fitness had been in doubt before this game after he skipped international duty and was rested for the weekend’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla, but he immediately tested Alisson Becker with a scorching strike from distance.
When Alisson was beaten by an Ivan Rakitic low cross-shot, it bounced off the base of the far post.
Daniele De Rossi was last man for a crucial tackle on Messi, then Alisson got down quickly to palm the Suarez angled drive away from both the goal and Sergi Roberto.
Kostas Manolas pinched the ball off Messi’s foot as he was pulling the trigger from 12 yards, but when Barcelona did break the deadlock, it was through a moment of luck. Iniesta’s through ball was on its way to Messi when De Rossi at full stretch intercepted – accidentally prodding it past his own goalkeeper.
Lorenzo Pellegrini was tripped inches off the edge of the penalty area by Samuel Umtiti, but blasted the free kick into the wall.
Roma really should’ve equalized within 20 seconds of the restart, as Florenzi’s cross found the head of Diego Perotti, who steered it wide from close range.
Moments later, Alisson parried a Jordi Alba attempt and Suarez turned the rebound over, but Florenzi caught Umtiti napping in the six-yard box and hit the post after the ball had been dragged out of play.
Alisson smothered a Messi snapshot, but Barcelona had all the luck yet again. Umtiti got to a cross from the right, hit the post from five yards and it ricocheted into the net off Manolas for a second own goal. Remarkably, that was the fifth own goal Barcelona have benefited from in the tournament this season, making og their second top scorers behind Messi on six.
There was a third very scrappy goal, as Alisson got down to palm away the Suarez angled drive, but Gerard Pique was quicker to react than Fazio to tap in from six yards.
Kevin Strootman’s effort was deflected over and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen had to perform two stunning saves, the first on substitute Gregoire Defrel following his own error, then flying to palm a Perotti scorcher over the bar.
Roma finally got their deserved goal with 10 minutes left, as Stephan El Shaarawy let Perotti’s pass through for Dzeko, whose first touch took it away from Jordi Alba to score from 12 yards.
Just as the Giallorossi had got hope going into the second leg, Maxime Gonalons gifted Luis Suarez his first Champions League goal of the season with an appalling first touch, setting up the Uruguayan to score from 10 yards.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s free kick skimmed the bar, but ultimately Roma gifted four goals to the Blaugrana.
Barcelona 4-1 Roma
De Rossi og 38 (B), Manolas og 57 (B), Pique 59 (B), Dzeko 80 (R), L Suarez 87 (B)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto (Andre Gomes 83), Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Semedo, Sergio Busquets (Paulinho 66), Rakitic, Iniesta (Denis Suarez 84); L Suarez, Messi
Roma: Alisson; Bruno Peres, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Pellegrini, De Rossi (Defrel 76), Strootman; Florenzi (El Shaarawy 72), Dzeko, Perotti
Ref: Makkelie (NED)
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