Hapless Roma fall to heavy Barca defeat

ROME – Two unfortunate own goals cost the Italian side dearly as Barcelona took firm control of their Champions League tie with a 4-1 victory at the Nou Camp. Edin Dzeko was able to claw one back, but a late goal from Luis Suarez leaves Roma with plenty to do in the return leg.

 Roma set out brightly and could easily have taken the lead early on. Dzeko was brought down by Nelson Semedo, having been clipped at the ankles. No penalty, however, was the decision of referee, Danny Makkelie, as the game began to sway in Barcelona’s favour.

 La Liga’s runaway leaders were starting to ramp up the pressure as Ivan Rakitić struck the post and Luis Suarez’s shot called on a smart save from Alisson.

 Roma’s resistance was eventually broken down before half-time. A swift exchange of passes looked to have set free the abnormally quiet Lionel Messi, but the ball was plucked away by Daniele de Rossi before arriving at the Argentinian’s feet, and poked into the back of the net.

 Samuel Umtiti was at the centre of the action soon after the break. The ball was bundled onto the post before a rebound struck the knee of Kostas Manolas and trickled over the line to double Barcelona’s lead.

 With their frustration somewhat relieved, the Catalan side struck once again. Luis Suarez’s shot was parried away by Alisson but fell to the feet of the unusually high Gerard Pique who gleefully stabbed home.

 Roma, however, did find some respite as the game began to open up further. Diego Perotti slalomed through the Barcelona midfield before firing a pass into Dzeko’s feet. The Roma forward did brilliantly to hold off Jordi Alba and roll the ball past Ter Stegen, breathing some life back into the tie.

 Whilst Roma may have been unlucky with the first two goals, they were left to rue a late defensive slipup. Denis Suarez’s cross should have been dealt with comfortably by Maxime Gonalons, but a clumsy touch allowed Luis Suarez to pounce, scoring his first Champions League goal in over a year. Errors like this rarely go unpunished, especially at this stage of the competition.

 Roma’s hope of progression now seem bleak, despite a home leg next Wednesday. Barcelona hold a commanding lead and with their forward line likely to rediscover their extra gear, the challenge appears to be no easier.

 Elsewhere in the Champions League, Liverpool thumped Manchester City 3-0 in a hugely unexpected result at Anfield. The reds will take an enormous amount of confidence from the first leg, but Pep Guardiola’s usually free-scoring side will no doubt respond in next week’s decisive leg.