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Roma’s Dzeko, Di Francesco relish Barcelona stunner

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Like Liverpool, AS Roma’s domestic season hasn’t gone according to plan. In a battle for third, not first, i Lupi is not in the running for an elusive scudetto.

Like Liverpool, they don’t care much about that right now.

[ RECAP: Roma 3-0 (4-4 agg.) Barcelona ]

AS Roma has reached its first UEFA Champions League semifinal, and has done it in stunning fashion by defeating a Barcelona team which is unbeaten in league play and has lost a single match — a Jan. 17 Copa del Rey first leg — since La Liga’s slate started Aug. 20.

Oh, and that defeat was a 3-0 home romp which overturned a 4-1 away deficit.

Edin Dzeko scored the away goal, one which looked like a mere door prize at the time, and also scored Tuesday as Roma rallied for glory. He was asked if the best was yet to come.

“The best came tonight but it could come again in a few weeks’ time! We can beat anyone playing the way we did tonight. We could have scored more too. We got at them right from the off – I’ve never seen Barcelona struggle like that before.”

Dzeko told PST before the season that he’d love to meet old club Man City in the Champions League. We’re sure he didn’t expect to outlast them.

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco is relishing the win, a second time he’s split results against Ernesto Valverde in his career dating back to last season’s Europa League group stage split between Sassuolo and Athletic Bilbao.

“You must always aim higher, but we’d produced some great performances in the league too. We’re reaping the rewards for all the hard work we’ve put in. I’m the coach so I’ll take the praise just as I take the criticism but I want to look forward. Why shouldn’t we believe we can reach the final? That has to be our target. I don’t want to stop here.”

Who should Roma want to draw in the next round (assuming Bayern Munich and Real Madrid hold onto their leads over Sevilla and Juventus)? The easy answer is Liverpool, but one thing’s for sure: When you control Barcelona in the second leg after deserving better in the first, no one’s going to take you for granted.

Roma stuns Barca to reach UCL semis

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Daniele De Rossi was already a Roma legend; After a goal and assist in a monumental comeback win over Barcelona, i Lupi’s captain is gonna get himself a statue

Edin Dzeko and Kosta Manolas and AS Roma also scored in the 3-0 win over Barcelona, turning the tie on its ear by advancing via its first leg away goal in a 4-4 draw over two legs in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

Dzeko scored the goal in the first leg.

Barcelona loses a monumental lead one year after its glorious comeback against Paris Saint-Germain.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Roma nabbed a quick lead, with De Rossi opening up the top of the Barcelona back line and Dzeko delivering a sixth minute goal.

And the roles were reversed, in a sense, when Dzeko earned a penalty out of Gerard Pique and De Rossi converted his chance to make it 4-3 on aggregate. Another goal without answer would put Roma through on away markers.

Manolas then flicked a header home off a corner kick to send the Stadio Olimpico into ecstasy. It would need to hold Barca scoreless for eight more minutes.

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[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Dzeko the star again as Roma advances past Shakhtar Donetsk

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Edin Dzeko‘s second half goal gave AS Roma a 1-0 win in the second leg of its UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match-up, and pulled i Lupi into a 2-2 aggregate score line with Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday in Rome.

The 1-0 win made Cenzig Under’s first leg away marker stand up as the difference maker in sending i Lupi into the quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Whatever Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco said to his men did the trick after a first leg he didn’t like very much.

Dzeko was played through on goal by Kevin Strootman early in the second half and defied Andriy Pyatov to bring Roma to 2-2 on aggregate with the lone away goal of the tie.

There was (slightly) off-field drama late, as Facundo Ferreyra appeared to shove a ball boy over the advertising boards.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Serie A: Juve now in control after win, Napoli’s loss to Roma

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ROME (AP) — Defending champion Juventus was poised to regain control of the Italian title race, closing the gap on leader Napoli to one point with a game in hand after Paulo Dybala’s superb injury-time winner beat Lazio 1-0 on Saturday.

The script could not have been written any better for Juventus, which is chasing a seventh straight Serie A title and 34th overall. If Dybala’s 93rd-minute winner wasn’t already enough to celebrate, Lazio’s cross-city rival Roma then did Juve a huge favor by winning at Napoli 4-2.

Striker Edin Dzeko netted twice for a rampant Roma which jumped above Lazio and into third place by one point. They are in a fierce fight with Inter Milan — preparing for the Milan derby on Sunday — for a Champions League place next season.


Livewire Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli the perfect start by sweeping in Mario Rui’s cross from the left after six minutes.

But home celebrations ended one minute later when in-form Turkey forward Cengiz Under scored an audacious but slightly deflected lob over Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina from inside the penalty area. He was found by Radja Nainggolan after Napoli lost possession in midfield.

Then, the imposing Dzeko easily rose above Raul Albiol to plant a firm header past Reina from Alessandro Florenzi’s cross. Both players were on Roma’s bench last week in the home loss to AC Milan, but probably won’t be anymore.

Napoli sent on all-time leading club scorer Marek Hamsik midway through the second half to spark its attack, and seconds later Insigne’s quick shot from outside the box curled just wide.

But Dzeko produced a masterful goal in the 73rd. Expertly controlling the ball some 30 meters out, he beat two players before bending the ball out of Reina’s reach and into the bottom left corner from the right edge of the penalty area.

Insigne was Napoli’s main threat and twice had shots saved shortly after Dzeko’s second goal. But Napoli’s awful defending could not go unpunished and Diego Perotti blasted in the fourth after a cross from the left was badly dealt with.

Napoli’s players hardly celebrated when Dries Mertens slotted in an injury-time consolation goal.


Paulo Dybala had done nothing all game for Juventus at Lazio.

That was until the 93rd minute when he brilliantly cut inside Luiz Felipe with a quick flick, showed great upper-body strength to hold off Marco Parolo, and fired into the top right corner while off balance.

The diminutive Argentina forward, who started the move by winning the ball in midfield and spraying it quickly to the right, sprinted jubilantly into the arms of delirious Juve fans behind the goal in the away end. His teammates mobbed him as he celebrated his 15th league goal, making him the team’s top scorer, one ahead of Gonzalo Higuain, who did not play.

Juventus neutralized Lazio striker Ciro Immobile, Serie A’s top scorer with 23, but created little until Dybala’s moment of magic.

Juventus was more concerned on keeping a close eye on Immobile, who scored four times in his last two matches against the Bianconeri.

He was not at his sharpest, yet hardly had any service.

Still, Juve’s defenders were glad to see him go off 10 minutes from time.

Fred’s vicious free kick leads Shakhtar over Roma

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Facundo Ferreyra and Fred scored second half goals to lead Shakhtar Donetsk past AS Roma 2-1 at the Donbass Arena in Wednesday’s first leg of the clubs’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Cendig Under scored his fifth goal in four matches as AS Roma did manage an away goal before the March 13 second leg in Rome.

Fred has been linked with a summer move to Man City, and the banger of a free kick showed part of the reason the Brazilian is in demand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Roma is bidding to make its first UEFA Champions League quarterfinal since 2007-08 when they went out at the hands of Manchester United, while Shakhtar last made the quarters only to be dismissed by Barcelona in 2010-11.

Ukrainian backstop Andriy Pyatov had an early save on Edin Dzeko off a cross from Aleksandar Kolarov, two minutes after Kolarov mailed a free kick over the bar.

Kolarov and Dzeko remained big parts of the story line, though Pyatov and the Shakhtar defense stood tall.

Dzeko would wind up assisting the opener, and it was the in form Under who’d bury his chance.

Not soon after the break, though, Yaroslav Rakitskiy cued up Ferreyra for the equalizer.

And Fred but the hosts ahead with this outstanding free kick, what they’d call a “bar down bingo” in hockey.