Kostas Manolas sent Roma through to the semifinals of the Champions League after an incredible 3-0 victory over Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday saw them overhaul a 4-1 first-leg deficit and advance on away goals.
The superb Edin Dzeko set the ball rolling in the sixth minute, and after Daniele De Rossi converted a penalty 13 minutes after the break to get the home fans believing, Manolas glanced home a brilliant header with eight minutes left to send the Roma supporters into raptures and leave Barca wondering what had hit them.
Just as they were at the Camp Nou, Roma were aggressive from the off, and Dzeko gave the home side a deserved lead after just six minutes, brilliantly bringing down De Rossi’s clipped through ball, holding off Samuel Umtiti and poking the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Patrik Schick had the best chances to double Roma’s lead before half-time on his Champions League debut, but continued the poor form in front of goal that has blighted his club-record move from Sampdoria.
He sent two glorious headed chances wide, the first from a vicious 13th-minute Aleksandar Kolarov corner.
The second, just before the half-hour mark was even more glaring, a free header on the penalty spot that should have hit the target.
He was however unlucky not to control Radja Nainggolan’s mishit shot when it flashed to him in the area just two minutes later.
Roma started the second half as they started the first and got their reward in the 58th minute when Edin Dzeko was chopped down by Gerard Pique and De Rossi slotted home the spot-kick.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side smelled blood, and with the raucous crowd urging their team they tore into wobbling Barca.
De Rossi flashed a header wide in the 69th minute, and 10 minutes later it looked like Ter Stegen had saved the away side’s skin with an incredible close-range stop from Stephan El Shaarawy.
However with just seven minutes left Manolas met another fizzing Kolarov corner with an unsaveable header, sparking wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
Barca finally came out of their shells as Roma tried to hold on to the result, but the hosts held on brilliantly to see the result out and go through to the semis for the first time since 1984, when they lost the final at home to Liverpool, Tuesday’s other victors.
Elsewhere in England, Liverpool moved into the semifinals of the Champions League as second-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino gave them a 2-1 victory against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, earning them a 5-1 aggregate win.
Trailing 3-0 from the first-leg City manager Pep Guardiola had said his team needed to produce a “perfect game” if they were to achieve a famous comeback and for 45 minutes they were not far off that level.
Gabriel Jesus scored after two minutes to fuel the home fans with hope and City then launched wave after wave of attacks to pin Liverpool back.
Yet after Bernardo Silva hit the post in the 40th minute and Leroy Sane had an effort ruled out for a disputed offside two minutes later, City had just the solitary goal to show for their first-half exertions.
It was Liverpool whose approach turned out to be perfect in the circumstances as they followed up their staunch first-half defending to deliver the decisive blows, scoring through Salah in the 56th minute and Firmino 13 minutes from fulltime to clinch their third win against City this season.
After a glorious attacking display in the first leg, Liverpool did exactly what they had to do in Manchester and deservedly took their place in the semifinals of the competition for the first time in 10 years.
City can look back with some pride though on their first-half performance. They needed an early goal to set the mood and they got exactly that, taking the lead in the second minute.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk gave the ball away and Fernandinho played a superb pass to Raheem Sterling on the right who slipped the ball across to Jesus to slot home.
Fired-up by that breakthrough and with the crowd roaring them on, City were first to every ball, applying constant pressure on the Liverpool defence while Juergen Klopp’s side were unable to earn some respite.
Kevin De Bruyne tested Loris Karius with a low drive in the 27th minute and the home side had an appeal for a penalty turned down when former Liverpool forward Sterling went down in the box with Andy Robertson’s arms around him.
Yet for all the pressure, Liverpool’s defence held firm and City were unable to create another clear-cut chance until the 40th minute when Bernardo Silva cut in from the right and his fierce left-foot drive crashed off the post.
Two minutes later, Sane thought he had added a second, poking the ball over the line but the referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz ruled the German was offside. City protested strongly, arguing the ball towards Sane had come off Liverpool’s James Milner.
Liverpool sent a warning just before the break when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rounded Ederson after a swift attack but shot wide from a tight angle.
As the teams came off, Guardiola’s protests about Sane’s disallowed goal resulted in him being sent to the stands for the second half.
All City’s breathless efforts were undone when Liverpool got the crucial away goal – Sadio Mane burst into the box, City keeper Ederson dived at his feet but the ball spilled out to Salah who took his time before coolly converting.
The goal left City needing to score four without reply to progress and 10 minutes later they threw on club record scorer Sergio Aguero in the hope of a miracle.
Yet any lingering questions over who would advance to the last four were ended when Firmino robbed a sloppy Nicolas Otamendi and slotted past Ederson.(News Express)