Kostas Manolas scored 10 minutes from time as Roma turned around a three-goal first-leg deficit to dump Barcelona out of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Few gave Roma a chance after they lost the quarterfinal first leg 4-1 at Camp Nou last week, but Barca coach Ernesto Valverde warned that “extraordinary” things can happen in football when he previewed the game on Monday. Perhaps he was aware his team have been stuttering in recent weeks. Perhaps he was just referencing Barca’s very own comeback against Paris Saint-Germain last year. This time it was their turn to be embarrassed.
Edin Dzeko’s early opener and Daniele De Rossi’s second-half penalty gave Roma a 2-0 lead on the night and pulled them back to 4-3 on aggregate with more than half an hour to play.
Barca were rocking in the exact same way PSG did against them last year. There was no composure. For a while it looked like they might cling on as Marc-Andre ter Stegen made save after save to keep them in front, just.
But the goal was coming. The home supporters, electric all night, could feel it. It eventually arrived in the 81st minute, Manolas flicking home from a corner to complete a barely believable turnaround.
It was Barca’s first defeat in either La Liga or the Champions League this season, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time. For the third year running, they fall out of Europe at the quarterfinal stage. They will have few complaints about the manner of their elimination.
Roma always looked likely to go through from the moment Dzeko held off Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba to open the scoring. Coach Eusebio Di Francesco named an attacking team and they quickly set out their stall, Dzeko’s goal arriving inside the first 10 minutes.
They will have been disappointed, after registering 10 shots, to have ended the half only one goal ahead. It didn’t affect their belief, though.
Dzeko, terrific throughout the 90 minutes, was involved in the second goal, too. He got in behind the Barca back line and was fouled by Gerard Pique. The penalty, after a slight delay, was given and De Rossi drove home.
Chances came and went for Roma, with Ter Stegen making a great save from Stephan El Shaarawy to keep Barca’s noses in front. He could do nothing when Manolas’ header flashed across him moments later, though.
Barca finally came alive. Or, at least, they attacked. Ousmane Dembele came on and Lionel Messi, isolated in both legs by Roma, became more involved. But it was too late. Roma had done it.