When in Roma: Italian underdogs shock Barcelona at own game to reach Champions League semifinals

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Roma’s <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/379812/" data-ylk="slk:Kostas Manolas">Kostas Manolas</a> (center) celebrates after his goal knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League. (Getty)
Roma’s Kostas Manolas (center) celebrates after his goal knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League. (Getty)

The meaningful possession. The dangerous set pieces. The moments of brilliance.

Barcelona has all but trademarked that stuff. On Tuesday, Roma swiped away the patent rights.

Over 90 minutes of enthusiastic and incredible drama at the Stadio Olimpico, Roma completely outclassed the powerhouse Spanish side to win 3-0 and advance to the Champions League semifinals thanks to an away goal in the first leg.

And in truth, Barcelona was rather fortunate to bring such a hefty advantage to the Italian capital. Two own goals aided the victory, and Roma made no such mistakes in the return fixture.

Chasing the third goal late, Cengiz Ünder swerved in a short corner that defender Kostas Manolas guided toward the back post, where instead of a Barcelona defender, the open net was waiting (via FOX Soccer):

That goal knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League quarterfinals for the fourth time in five seasons, a rather stunning record for one of the world’s very best clubs. The only time the Catalans have reached the semifinals since 2014 was when they won the entire competition the following year.

Roma, meanwhile, looked like the more confident, composed side and turned that energy against Barcelona. Daniele De Rossi headlined a midfield performance that never let Barcelona sustain stretches of possession. Edin Dzeko provided a wonderful valve up top, holding up play and allowing Roma to dictate the pace.

Dzeko and De Rossi hooked up to give Roma some early hope in the sixth minute. De Rossi lifted a long ball forward over the Barcelona defense, which Dzeko settled with a great touch and tapped home with his left foot (via FOX Soccer):

Goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen actually did well to stay on his line and not get caught up in no-man’s land, but poor Barca defending doomed the visitors in that instance.

In truth, it doomed them over the two legs and especially early in the second half, when Gerard Pique let Dzeko get around him and responded by trying to pull him down in the box. When he couldn’t, he clipped his legs for good measure and was whistled for a clear penalty.

De Rossi calmly stepped up to the spot and buried his kick to the right despite ter Stegen guessing correctly.

Barcelona’s Gerard Pique (bottom) brings down Roma’s Edin Dzeko in the penalty box. (Getty)
Barcelona’s Gerard Pique (bottom) brings down Roma’s Edin Dzeko in the penalty box. (Getty)

Roma is the first Italian side besides Juventus to reach the Champions League semifinals since Italy last produced a European champion, Inter Milan in 2010.

I Giallorossi also became just the third team in the Champions League era to overturn a three-goal deficit after the first leg in the knockout stages.

Barcelona is still rocketing its way toward a seventh La Liga title in the past decade and 25th overall, but the inability to make deep runs into Europe is becoming a concern, especially with Lionel Messi and other aging stars looking so vastly off the pace like they did on Tuesday.

That’s not Roma’s problem. There are travel plans for these people to make:

Joey Gulino is the editor of FC Yahoo and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

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