Liverpool dump City out, Roma earn fairytale win to advance

Liverpool completed a miserable week which included three consecutive defeats for Manchester City with a 2-1 win at Etihad stadium to qualify for the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League, becoming the first team ever to defeat The Citizens three times in one season.

Giorgino Wijnaldum replaced Henderson in midfield for Liverpool, while Bernardo Silva replaced Ikay Gundogan for City as the only changes for both teams from the first leg.

Pep Guardiola promised to take the shackles off his players and they responded with the first goal in the second minute. Liverpool’s van Dijk lost the ball under pressure from Raheem Sterling and complained instead of chasing back, the Jamaican-born England international squaring for striker Gabriel Jesus to finish beyond Karius and start a possible comeback.

Kevin De Bruyne shot wide from 25 yards minutes later as Liverpool looked to kill the tempo of the game. Manchester City were looking to commit the Liverpool players into fouls and making a meal of it, Otamendi clearly playing the script when he wriggled like a man shot by Saido Mane’s accidental collision which earned the Senegalese a yellow card. Pep’s City continued dominating and had a plethora of chances within minutes, van Dijk blocking a goal bound Jesus shot and Sane forced Karius a save.

Sane, Sterling and Bernardo Silva were wrecking havoc on the wings, while De Bruyne was controlling the midfield but a combination of desperate and dogged Liverpool defending prevented further goals. Their best chance to further reduce the deficit came on 41 minutes when Bernardo Silva curler hit the post, while seconds later they had a legitimate goal chalked off. Goalkeeper Karius, under pressure but no from Sterling, rushed out to deliver a feeble punch from a cross and it landed to a Man City player who’s shot at goal was converted by Sane from two yards out but the linesman’s flag ruled out the goal. Moments before the half time, Liverpool had their first clear cut chance when a one-two exchange between Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah took the former Arsenal him beyond the City defence and he rounded Ederson in goal but his shot from a very acute angle went high and wide.

Guardiola was sent to the stand for the second half after a confronting the referee and Liverpool capitalized on the counter. The impressive Oxlade Chamberlain’s through ball found Salah who set Mane free but Ederson saved at his feet. Free-scoring Egyptian striker Salah gathered the loose ball and converted the equalizer to make City’s task a lot harder.

City, needing four goals to advance, looked rudderless and lacked ideas in attack and Liverpool made them pay in defence. Otamendi’s clearance hit Firmino and the Brazilian gathered to slot home an unlikely 2-1 winner for the Kop on the night- winning both legs- and 5-1 on aggregate.

In Italy, a game for the ages ensued as the gladiators of Roma dumped a feeble Barcelona out of the Champions League with an unlikely- albeit deserving- 3-0 thumping at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

An inspired Roma took an early lead in the sixth minute through Edin Dzeko. The former Man City striker brought a cross from deep under control between Alba and Umtiti to finish with aplomb past ter Stegen for his 6th goal in 10 UCL games. Roma dominated and had chances to double the lead through Dzeko and Perotti- particularly Dzeko- against a rather static Barca who looked to absorb pressure without much attacking intent.

Lionel Messi was stifled all night as the second half continued just like the first ended, with Roma dominating, but the Italian’s were not afforded much scoring opportunities. However, they made their first of the half count from the spot in the 58th minute. Iniesta lost possession in midfield and the ball found its way to Dzeko’s feet, the striker holding the ball up excellently while being dragged to the floor by Pique. Veteran captain Daniele De Rossi made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-0 for the capital outfit.

El-Sharawy almost scored the decisive third when his flick at the back post was saved by ter Stegen.

Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco talked about believing in miracles ahead of the tie and he duly got a well deserved miracle. They got the third goal their performance merited on 83 minutes through Kostas Manolas. The Greek centre back glanced in a header on the run at the near post from a corner kick.

Ousmane Dembele nearly scored for Barcelona from a misunderstanding in Roma’s defence, but the Italians held on for an unlikely but well-earned 3-0 victory which secured a 4-4 aggregate scoreline and earned them semi final qualification on away goals rule.

RESULTS

Roma (1) 3-0 (3) Barcelona (4-4 on aggregate; Roma advance on away goals rule)

Manchester City (0) 1-2 (3) Liverpool (1-5 on aggregate; Liverpool advance)