Dzeko strikes to take Roma into last eight

New Straits Times - - SPORT -

ROMA reached the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter-fi­nals for the first time in 10 years as Edin Dzeko edged them past Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 at the Sta­dio Olimpico on Tues­day and al­lowed the Ital­ians to win the tie on away goals.

The Bos­nian striker’s 52nd­minute goal proved enough af­ter a 2-1 first-leg loss in Ukraine, with 10-man Shakhtar fail­ing to find the late strike they needed af­ter Ivan Ordets was sent off late on.

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 Ordets be­ing shown a straight red card with 12 min­utes left.

That send­ing-off led to ten­sions spilling over, with Shakhtar’s Fa­cundo Fer­reyra pick­ing up a book­ing for shov­ing a ball­boy over an ad­ver­tis­ing board.

Euse­bio Di Francesco’s side are the sec­ond Ital­ian team to ad­vance to the quar­ter-fi­nals af­ter Ju­ven­tus, with the draw for the last eight tak­ing place to­mor­row.

“The stand­ing ova­tion is not for me but for every­one, we are de­servedly in the quar­ter-fi­nals,” said Dzeko of the ap­plause which ac­com­pa­nied him off the pitch.

“We man­aged to do some­thing Roma hadn’t in 10 years, so go­ing for­ward to play against the best makes us all very proud.

“We are among the eight best sides in Europe.”

Roma did not con­cede a goal at home in the group stage and ham­mered Chelsea 3-0 at the Sta­dio Olimpico, so the home fans in the crowd of 47,693 would have been con­fi­dent their side could get the job done.

The Ukraini­ans dom­i­nated early pos­ses­sion though, and there was a scare for the hosts when Alessan­dro Florenzi nearly nod­ded a free-kick into his own net.

Fer­reyra then came close af­ter Fed­erico Fazio lost the ball just out­side his own box, be­fore Roma struck seven min­utes into the sec­ond half.

Kevin St­root­man sent Dzeko through as Shakhtar tried with­out suc­cess to play the off­side trap, and the Bos­nian for­ward prod­ded a shot through the legs of goal­keeper An­driy Py­a­tov and into the net for his fourth goal in the Cham­pi­ons League this sea­son.

Dzeko was then brought down by Ordets who got a straight red card for his trou­bles, mak­ing Shakhtar’s task that bit harder.

“We knew that sooner or later they would make a mis­take and we’d pounce on it,” said Roma coach Di Francesco.

“If we face any op­po­nent with this at­ti­tude and de­ter­mi­na­tion, we can go far.”

“Roma made the most of a sin­gle mo­ment,” said Shakhtar coach Paulo Fon­seca.

“Dzeko of course was a key player, but apart from his goal they didn’t have a chance, we had pos­ses­sion. If we had fin­ished off the chances we had in the first leg the match would al­ready have been over.”

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

There have not been two Ital­ian clubs in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League since 2006/07, when Roma joined even­tual win­ners AC Mi­lan in the last eight.

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

Di Francesco added: “I spoke with Mon­tella a few days ago and we said we’d meet in the fi­nal.”

An­to­nio Conte could make that four with his Chelsea side fac­ing Barcelona late yes­ter­day.


Roma’s Edin Dzeko (right) cel­e­brates with Cen­giz Un­der af­ter scor­ing against Shakhtar Donetsk.

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