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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:

LIVE, UCL: Roma hope for epic comeback v Liverpool

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This is it.

Get set for one heck of an encounter in the Italian capital as Liverpool aim to reach the UEFA Champions League final where Real Madrid await either Jurgen Klopp‘s men or AS Roma.

[ LIVE: Roma v. Liverpool ]

Roma host Liverpool in the second leg of their UCL semifinal on Wednesday (kick off, 2:45 p.m. ET).

Liverpool have a 5-2 lead from the first leg of their UCL semifinals at Anfield but with Roma needing a 3-0 win to advance (just as they did in dramatic fashion in the quarterfinals against Barcelona in the second leg at home) expect a raucous atmosphere in the Stadio Olimpico as home fans hope for another miracle comeback.

Mohamed Salah will be hoping to well and truly bury his former club but Liverpool will be wary of the threat of Roma as they conceded two late goals at Anfield after leading 5-0 and Roma could’ve easily scored more.

Click on the link above to follow live updates from Rome, while we will have analysis and reaction right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Roma training shirts dedicated to injured Liverpool fan

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ROME (AP) — Roma wore training shirts dedicated to the Liverpool fan severely injured in clashes before the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.

Ahead of Wednesday’s return match, Roma trained Tuesday wearing shirts with the text “Forza Sean” – “Go Sean” – referring to Reds fan Sean Cox, who remains in a medically-induced coma.

Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said “I really think Roma showed (a good) gesture.”

Two men from Rome were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following the assault outside Liverpool’s stadium.

With concerns of a reprisal attack, Italian and English police have cooperated on an extensive security plan for the second leg.

Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco says, “I want to issue an appeal: I hope it’s really joyful and fun to come to the stadium, beyond the result.”

Klopp also appreciated how Roma visited the memorial in Anfield for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which resulted in 96 deaths.

“It is a really nice thing, and in these moments at least all football fans – and we are professionals but we are still football fans – should really stay together and show this kind of respect,” Klopp said. “So I love the gesture.”

CL Preview: Liverpool looks to finish the deal vs. Roma

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Real Madrid is already into the Champions League final. It would appear that Liverpool has one foot in the match as well, but there are 90 minutes more to take care of before that is for sure.

The Reds hold a 5-2 first-leg advantage after stomping Roma at the Kop, but it’s that 1 that has fans worried. After a stunning first 70 minutes that looked to be the best Liverpool performance maybe in years, the final 20 ticks were nervy, ruining the clean sheet and giving the second leg in the Italian capital more than a smidge of intrigue.

Can Roma do it again?

The Italian club stunned runaway La Liga champions Barcelona just last round, reversing a 4-1 first-leg deficit and winning the second meeting 3-0 and advancing on away goals. Now, they’ll need a repeat performance of that once-in-a-generation comeback, a task so tall considering Liverpool’s form.

But Barcelona was in good form too. In fact, they haven’t lost all season in league play, a stunning invincible record that has seen them already confirmed as league champions. Somehow, Roma kept Lionel Messi and company out of the net and grabbed the three goals required to advance.

And yet, if Barcelona was a mountain to climb, this is Kilimanjaro. The Reds feature Mohamed Salah, a player not only in contention for Premier League Player of the Season, but also maybe in the best form of any attacker in the world. If Liverpool scores once, Roma would need four. If Liverpool scores twice, Roma would need six, effectively ending the tie.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp thinks that while Barcelona may have been naive, Liverpool certainly is not, thanks to red flags from the comeback in the previous round. “Barcelona thought probably that it’s decided,” he said. “Everybody is telling us that it’s possible for Roma to beat us 3-0 or 4-0. Nobody told Barcelona. Not that I needed it but, we have the warning.”

The main scoring threat for Roma could come in the form of former Premier League striker Edin Dzeko. The Bosnia & Herzegovina international will play against Liverpool for the 13th time in his career across all competitions, the most against any team he has ever faced, level with Bayern Munich. He has four goals in those games, but Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco expects big things from their leader.

“All the players need to feel responsible and be pleased about that [feeling],” Di Francesco said in his pre-match press conference. “As coach, I’m pleased to have this responsibility, but the players are the ones doing it on the pitch. Even more so with Dzeko – I hope he can be our Salah from the first leg, so he can pull things back and determine a great comeback. A player of his quality, ability – it’s right that he has this responsibility.”

Part of winning the Champions League is shocking the world, part of it is overcoming adversity, but part of it is also taking care of business. That is what Liverpool need to do on Wednesday, with kickoff from Stadio Olimpico at 2:45 p.m. ET. If they complete the performance, a date with Real Madrid in the final awaits – a worthy adversary expected to prevail but also with plenty of fallacies. That opportunity will not come if they do not take care of business.

Serie A: Napoli handed title lifeline, throw it away a day later

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ROME (AP) Napoli’s title hopes were dealt a severe blow with a 3-0 loss at Fiorentina on Sunday that leaves Juventus with a clear path toward a record-extending seventh straight Serie A championship.

Napoli played most of the match with 10 men after Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off for a last-man foul on Giovanni Simeone, who went on to score a hat trick.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri called it his squad’s “worst match of the season.”

After Koulibaly’s red card and Fiorentina’s first goal “we were completely lost,” Sarri said. “Over the course of the season we’ve done well to handle these types of problems but today we didn’t.”

Napoli was left four points behind Juventus with three matches to play – the same gap which existed until the Partenopei beat Juventus a week ago.

Juventus produced two goals in the final four minutes of a 3-2 win at 10-man Inter Milan on Saturday.

However, Juventus will have to overcome an injury to striker Mario Mandzukic, who had 10 stitches applied to a deep cut in his left ankle after getting stepped on by Matias Vecino against Inter.

In Florence, Koulibaly was first shown a yellow and a penalty was awarded since the referee believed the foul had occurred inside the area. But after VAR help, the referee ruled that the foul had occurred outside the area and changed the card from yellow to red.

Simeone, the son of Atletico Madrid coach and former Argentina international Diego Simeone, finished off a counterattack later in the first half by shooting under the legs of goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Then after the hour mark, Simeone was quickest to a rebound following a corner and scored from close range. He then added another from a counterattack in the 90th, running past a confused Mario Rui for his 13th of the season.

“Clearly, having an extra man after eight minutes was a huge advantage,” Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli said. “We had the right ideas even with 11 against 11, but we should have scored more goals earlier on.

“We knew Napoli could be dangerous, so we tried to pass the ball and never stopped pressing,” Pioli added. “There’s no such thing as a perfect performance, but I think we came pretty close.”

Fiorentina is ninth, four points below the Europa League spots.


AC Milan ended a five-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory at Bologna to revive its pursuit of a Europa League spot.

Hakan Calhanoglu and Giacomo Bonaventura scored in the first half for the Rossoneri, which had lost two and drawn three since beating Chievo in mid-March.

Milan remained one point behind sixth-place Atalanta, which beat Genoa 3-1, in the fight for the last Europa League spot.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso didn’t give his squad any days off this week following a 1-0 loss at home against Bologna last weekend, acknowledging that the club had “touched bottom.”

Calhanoglu was set up by Patrick Cutrone to score from beyond the area in the 34th.

Bologna thought it had equalized four minutes later but what would have been Riccardo Orsolini’s first Serie A goal was waved off by the VAR for a handball in the buildup by Rodrigo Palacio.

Bonaventura then took advantage of a defensive mistake and fooled his marker before firing in an angled shot.

Sebastian De Maio pulled one back for Bologna with a header after the break.

Musa Barrow, Bryan Cristante and Josip Ilicic scored for Atalanta.

Lazio won 1-0 at Torino to stay level on points with third-place Roma and on course for a Champions League berth.

Roma and Lazio are each four points ahead of Inter.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored with a header early in the second half for Lazio after Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saved an early penalty from Luis Alberto.