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Roma lets loose on referee, from players to owner

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From the field to the board room, AS Roma is raging with Slovenian referee Damir Skomina after he denied multiple penalty shouts before granting one in stoppage time of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg between Liverpool and the Italian hosts.

[ MORE: Roma 4-2 (6-7 agg.) Liverpool ]

“It changes everything,” said Roma director of sport Monchi. “We conceded a goal that was offside in the first leg, here we had two penalties not given, one of which was a clear red card. … It’s time to raise our voices, not just Roma either, as Juventus suffered the same against Real Madrid. Italian football has to raise its voice, because what we saw tonight was shocking.”

Monchi points out that he’s spent the majority of his career in Spain, so this isn’t just pro-Italian refereeing. He’s going to find allies (!!!) in Juve, who grew enraged with English referee Michael Oliver after Real Madrid’s late penalty against the Turin powers.

The biggest gripe is with Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s handball block of a goal-bound effort, though Roma went on to score two more goals on the day including a penalty kick for a less clear handball against Ragnar Klavan.

Make no mistake, Liverpool did enough to deserve the win (even if Jurgen Klopp even admitted the Reds were lucky).

Roma defender Federico Fazio was also angry with the award of only three minutes of second half stoppage time.

And it went all the way to the top: American owner Jim Pallotta was enraged with Skomina.

“It’s absolutely clear that VAR is needed in the Champions League, because you can’t let stuff like this go,” Pallotta told reporters in the mixed zone, via Football Italia.

“You can all look at it yourself. Dzeko wasn’t offside, got taken down for a penalty. At the 65th minute, there was a handball that was obvious to everybody in the world except those on the pitch. In the 67th minute Schick gets taken down in the box, I mean it’s just… I know it’s difficult to ref, but it’s really embarrassing when we lose on aggregate like that… By the way, it should’ve been a red card, so would’ve been 10 men from the 63rd minute.

“Again, congratulations to Liverpool, they’re a great team, but if we don’t get VAR in the Champions League, stuff like this is an absolute joke.”

I Lupi manager Eusebio Di Francesco said protesting the uncalled penalties distracted from the comeback effort, and Roma legend Daniele De Rossi said the missed call was understandable, as he didn’t see it either. And he’s turned a bright light on his team’s performance.

“We’ve seen we’re not so far behind the others, so we must start thinking that Roma should have a Champions League semi-final once every three years, not once every 30. The club will work to make the team even stronger, the fans have followed us so passionately and something has been recreated with the fans that I haven’t seen since I was a child. Now we are all as one, we are united with the fans, and we can achieve great things together.”

Finally, this:

Comeback kids Roma defiant after loss: “We are not beaten yet”

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AS Roma turned around a three-goal first leg deficit against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, and i Lupi feel prepared to do it against Liverpool, too.

Roma fell 5-2 to the Reds on Tuesday, but again struck late to bring away goals back to Italy. This time, it was Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti ruining a host’s clean sheet.

[ MORE: Match recap | Klopp reacts ]

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco was not thrilled with his side on the night. From ASRoma.com/En:

“We weren’t on their level tonight – we were lacking a bit of strength and physical presence,” he said. “We let them swamp us too easily on occasion.”

A better second leg is almost assured, but can Roma complete another comeback?

“I have total belief,” Di Francesco said. “You can’t just give in during a game, especially in this type of competition. Sometimes you take a few hits, but the team wasn’t able to stay in the game and at times we lost a bit of unity.”

Sporting director Monchi admits that he thought his side was cooked before Dzeko opened Roma’s account.

“Up until the final 10 minutes we were out of the competition,” he said. “Now we still have some hopes, and we must take this small chance and do the same thing we did against Barcelona.”

Former Spurs defender Federico Fazio, now with Roma, thinks it can be done.

“We always focus on the positives,” said Fazio. “We are fighters and we will give absolutely everything until the last second. We are not beaten yet, once again with the strength of our fans behind us we will fight to the last moment to try and turn this tie around.”

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.

UCL Weds: Just watch the fireworks

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With apologies to Cristiano Ronaldo’s amazing goal and a standout day for Franck Ribery and Bayern Munich, Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League fixtures feel a bit like the buildup to Wednesday’s ffering.

[ RECAPS: Juve-Real | Sevilla-Bayern ]

That’s because Premier League powers Manchester City and Liverpool begin their UCL quarterfinal at 2:45 p.m. ET, the same time Lionel Messi’s Barcelona tangles with Daniele De Rossi and AS Roma.

Liverpool vs. Man City

The first leg at Anfield will be memorably loud at the jump, as Liverpool supporters feel their status as the only club to trip up City in a meaningful match this season is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Reds fell 5-0 in the first meeting of the season, and did nearly give away the farm after building a 4-1 lead at Anfield on Jan. 14, but there are only a select few sides with the attacking firepower to put a scare into Man City, and Jurgen Klopp‘s trident of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane is one of them.

[ MORE: How will Liverpool, Man City line up? ]

Another perceived advantage for the Reds is Man City’s surprising history at Anfield; Liverpool has only lost once to City in 37 years. Kevin De Bruyne is not worried.

“In the end, people talk about these things but I’ve only been here two and a half years,” De Bruyne said. “This is only the second time I’ll play here. It’s different, but at the end of the day, it’s just a game and now we play two games home and away and we have to try to manage tomorrow, get a lead if possible, if not we can finish it next week.”

Joel Matip is out for the rest of Liverpool’s season, but the Reds defense won’t have to contend with Sergio Aguero (at least not Wednesday).

Barcelona vs. AS Roma

There’s no questions visiting i Lupi is the supreme underdog of the round, and their chances of sneaking up on Barcelona are slim to none.

Ernesto Valverde has a chance to lead Barca to the UCL title in his first season in charge, and said Roma “are no surprise package. If you look at their matches in the group stages, they played really well.”

Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco is still playing with house money after winning a group with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. He may not have Radja Nainngolan at his disposal, but there’s plenty of steel around starting with De Rossi.

“We’re going up against a team that forces you onto the back foot. You can see it in the statistics and in their approach. Every footballer, though, has to have as part of their temperament the ability to handle the pressure of these situations, particularly if you play for an important club. You have to be prepared to take risks, to believe in better. The mentality that ‘what will be will be’ is dangerous though; our objective is to prepare as much as possible so that we can make it a competitive match.”

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.