The Borneo Post (Sabah)
Roma hold Ajax to advance to semi-finals
Edin Dzeko scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Ajax on the night to advance to the Europa League semi-finals 3-2 on aggregate in Rome on Thursday.
The last Italian team left in European competition held off the Dutch to set up a final-four clash with Manchester United who beat Granada.
Roma had won the first leg 2-1 in Amsterdam, but suffered against the Dutch who dominated early in the Stadio Olimpico taking the lead after the break with a Brian Brobbey goal.
Dzeko tapped in with 18 minutes to go as the hosts held on to reach the final four of a European competition for the second time in four seasons after the Champions League in 2018.
"We were pragmatic. We knew we were at an advantage after the first leg and did well to manage this," said Roma coach Paulo Fonseca.
"We're proud to represent Italy, and satisfied to be in the semifinals."
Roma's hopes of reaching the Champions League next season could depend on their success in the Europa League as they sit seventh in Serie A.
Jordan Veretout had an early chance to put the hosts ahead but his effort was ruled offside after eight minutes.
Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez's clumsy pass almost handed Ajax their first goal before Amadou
Diawara blocked a Dusan Tadic effort.
Ajax lost defender Sean Klaiber to a muscular injury after 22 minutes with Perr Schuurs coming on in his place.
But Ajax controlled possession without being able to break through against a solid Roma defence and Lopez.
The breakthrough came four minutes after the interval when Schuurs sent the ball over the top for second-half substitute Brobbey who beat the out-rushing Lopez.
It was 19-year-old's third goal in the competition since the Dutch side entered at the knockout stage.
The Roma keeper denied Brobbey a second ten minutes later before Tadic sent in the rebound which was ruled out after a VAR review for a foul on Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the build-up.
Roma were on the scoreboard after 72 minutes with Bosnian Dzeko tapping in off a Riccardo Calafiori cross to beat Maarten Stekelenburg for his 30th European goal with Roma and 117th overall.
Four-time European champions Ajax were unable to snatch another goal which would have pushed the game into extra-time.
"We knew we were facing a great team, today we showed that we're continuing to grow," said Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini of the three-time Serie A champions who have not won a league title in two decades. - AFP