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Roma humble Barca to reach C League semis

Kostas Manolas’ late header capped a sensational Roma comeback against Barcelona
© AFP LLUIS GENE

ROME, Italy, Apr 10 – Kostas Manolas sent Roma through to the semi-finals 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.

Edin Dzeko’s early goal at the Stadio Olimpico gave Roma hope of overturning a 4-1 deficit from the first leg before Daniele de Rossi converted a 58th-minute penalty.

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.

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However with just seven minutes left Manolas met another fizzing Kolarov corner with a 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.

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