Dzeko happy to prove his worth to Roma

The New Age (Gauteng) - - SPORT -

FROM a pos­si­ble sac­ri­fice for his cash­strapped club in Jan­uary, Edin Dzeko proved his worth to Roma on Tues­day, seal­ing a first Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nal berth in a decade.

Af­ter the 31 year old’s pro­posed move to Chelsea fell through in the win­ter trans­fer win­dow, Dzeko helped the bal­ance sheet of the club’s US owner James Pal­lotta by se­cur­ing Roma’s place in the last eight of Europe’s lu­cra­tive elite com­pe­ti­tion.

“I didn’t want to go in Jan­uary be­cause I want to play these kind of games,” Dzeko said af­ter his 52nd­minute goal clinched a place in the last eight af­ter a 2­1 first­leg loss in Ukraine amid scenes of eu­pho­ria in the Sta­dio Olympico.

Cen­giz Un­der’s goal in the first leg last month ul­ti­mately proved cru­cial for Roma, but Dzeko was the hero on the night and also proved in­stru­men­tal in Shakhtar de­fender Ivan Ordets be­ing shown a straight red card with 12 min­utes left.

“We man­aged to do some­thing that had been miss­ing for 10 years,” Dzeko said. “Go­ing for­ward and play­ing with big teams is a pride for all of us.”

Dzeko proved to be a leader on the pitch with coach Euse­bio Di Francesco giv­ing him a stand­ing ova­tion at the end.

“It is not for me, but for ev­ery­one, we are de­servedly in the quar­ter­fi­nals,” said the Bos­nian af­ter his fourth Cham­pi­ons League goal, and 18th in to­tal for the club this sea­son.

“Dzeko is our di­a­mond,” Ital­ian de­fender Alessan­dro Florenzi said.

“It’s my first Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nal, so it’s a eu­phoric mo­ment,” added Bel­gian mid­fielder Radja Naing­golan as Roma qual­i­fied for a third quar­ter­fi­nals of the mod­ern Cham­pi­ons League.

“It’s re­ally sat­is­fy­ing for me be­cause I think we saw a team be­ing born this evening,” Di Francesco said.

“We played a team game, a man’s match. We didn’t give them any­thing.”

Af­ter Italy’s shock fail­ure to qual­ify for the World Cup, Roma’s progress to the last eight along with Ju­ven­tus is a boost for the coun­try.

Ju­ven­tus have reached two fi­nals in the past three sea­sons. The last Ital­ian club to win the ti­tle was In­ter Mi­lan un­der Jose Mour­inho in 2010.

“There aren’t any teams I want to avoid,” Di Francesco said, look­ing ahead to Fri­day’s draw.

“Roma must not fear any­one. I want to con­tinue to dream with this team.”

There will also be at least three Ital­ian coaches in the quar­ter­fi­nals – Di Francesco, Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri of Ju­ven­tus and Vin­cenzo Mon­tella of Sevilla.

“I spoke a few days ago with Mon­tella. We said we’d meet in the fi­nal,” the Roma coach said.

“Jok­ing aside, who­ever the team we meet they will be wel­come. In the mean­while we’ll pre­pare for the (Se­rie A) match against Cro­tone.” – AFP


GOAL: Edin Dzeko opted to stay at Roma to play in big games.

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