Barcelona 4-1 Roma

Luis Suarez scored his first Champions League goal in more than a year as Barcelona beat Roma convincingly in the quarter-final first leg.

Barca benefitted from two own goals to take control of the tie.

First Daniele de Rossi slid into his own net in a bid to keep the ball away from Lionel Messi, and then Kostas Manolas bundled another in, with Gerard Pique tapping in Barcelona’s third.

Edin Dzeko gave Roma hope – but Suarez then slammed home from 14 yards.

Barca are strong favourites to clinch their first semi-final spot since 2014-15, when they won the tournament, next Wednesday at the Stadio Olimpico.

Barcelona treble dreams still on course

Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona – nine points clear at the top of La Liga and in the Copa del Rey final – did not even need to play well to brush Roma aside – and they could have won by more.

Suarez had a goal rightly ruled out for offside and Ivan Rakitic hit the post before Roma captain De Rossi slid Andres Iniesta’s cross into his own net from about 16 yards out.

Roma did have chances and could have had a penalty when Samuel Umtiti fouled Lorenzo Pellegrini right on the edge of the box near the end of the first half, but referee Danny Makkelie awarded a free-kick to Roma instead of a spot-kick.

Twenty seconds after the restart, they went close when unmarked Diego Perotti’s header from Alessandro Florenzi went wide.

They trailed by two when Umtiti hit the post and Roma defender Manolas put the rebound in before the Barca man could do it himself.

Pique tapped in after Suarez’s shot was parried. But Dzeko got what looked an important away goal when he converted Perotti’s low cross.

The tie was all but ended when Suarez smashed home from Denis Suarez’s cross for his first Champions League goal in 11 games – a statistical anomaly for a striker who has scored 22 goals in 26 La Liga games this season.

Lionel Messi had seven shots, three on target, but failed to score for the first time in eight games.

Barca get a helping hand again
Daniele de Rossi was understandably trying to stop the ball from getting to Lionel Messi

For a team who score with ease themselves, Barcelona do not need any assistance to get on the scoresheet.

But they have now benefitted from more Champions League own goals than any other team in a single season.

Opposition players netted for Barcelona in three of the four group games that Barca managed to score in – Sebastian Coates and Jeremy Mathieu for Sporting Lisbon in different matches and Dimitris Nikolaou for Olympiakos.

De Rossi and Manolas’ efforts against Barcelona, both of which were unlucky, mean that Lionel Messi is the only Barcelona player, with six, to net more times than own goals in the Champions League this season.

“It’s not just luck that we get own goals in our favour,” said Pique. “Things happen for a reason. If these goals go our way it’s because we press high, we push up in attack – the ball is in the opposition area more than usual in other teams’ matches.”

Man of the match – Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Barcelona’s usual magicians were not at their best, but goalscorer Gerard Pique was impressive, winning possession 11 times and completing more passes than anyone else bar Ivan Rakitic

 

Source BBC