Score: A.S Roma 2 F.C Porto 1FT
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Following a win away at Chievo Verona. Roma resumed their Champions League campaign in the Round of 16 against Portuguese side FC Porto. These teams faced each other 2 years ago in the Champions League qualifying round as Porto prevented Roma from the Champions League that year. Roma got second in their group while FC Porto manages to win their group without a loss. Despite that, they were viewed as Roma’s easiest opponents given the potential options. The first leg was at the Stadio Olimpico as Roma welcomed their counterparts to Rome in a highly anticipated match. It was a very dry first half with only a fair few chances from Roma. The game woke up in the second half in what was a 9-Minute sequence of 3 goals. More importantly the birth of Champions League football for Nicolo Zaniolo. At just 19 years old Roma’s youngster scored twice within minutes of each other as Roma got off to a 2-0 lead. Becoming the youngest player to score multiple Champions League goals in a match. Porto fought back through Adrian to get a crucial away goal despite that Roma controlled the game in the second half Porto did not create much as the Romans dominated the second half of a play. Roma takes a 2-1 lead into the second leg in Portugal. Conceding an away goal stings but Roma just needs a repeat performance to find a way to their second consecutive Champions League Quarter Finals. Roma wins back-to-back games as we are starting to see Roma develop some more consistency. A huge win for a team that is built for knock out football the underdog mentality that Roma have can take them to the finish line with an important when as they take care of business at the Stadio Olimpico snapping Porto’s 23-match unbeaten run in the process.
Eusebio Di Francesco maintained his 4-3-3 formation for this important Champions League match. Robin Olsen would miss the match with an injury Roma’s backup Antonio Mirante filled in for the Swedish International. Roma’s usual starting defense came a back together for this match. At left-back would be Alex Kolarov beside him would be the returned center-back Partnership of Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio. Then returning from the Midfield going back to his typical spot would be Alexandro Florenzi coming in at right-back. In Roma’s three-man midfield controlling the center position would be Roma Captain Daniele De Rossi. To his left would be a talented midfielder, Lorenzo Pellegrini. Then on the opposite side, it to his right would be the up and coming midfielder Bryan Cristante. Upfront in the three-headed monster would be a very dangerous attack. On the left wing would be fast and agile Stephan El Shaarawy. On the opposite side on the right wing would be the best youngster in Europe this season Nicolo Zaniolo. Then up front as Romans main Striker one of the competition’s most dangerous players the Bosnian Edin Dzeko. This Roma team fields a historic 7 Italians in their starting 11. Also, a Roma team has a strong bench with Justin Kluivert and Steven Nzonzi to their disposal.
The Champions League is officially back and were Ready to kick off the round of 16 match between Roma and Porto in Rome. In what was another European night at the Stadio Olimpico. After preparations and predictions, the match got underway. The match took a really long time to develop it was a very slow and as it really failed to develop in the first half. The teams were feeling each other out but could not really put together anything major in first-half a play. In fact, there wasn’t even a legitimate chance until the game neared the half-hour mark. When Bryan Cristante set up Lorenzo Pellegrini as the midfielder struck from distance but he was denied by the keeper. Even though the match really failed to get on its feet in the first 45 minutes it was a very physical game with a lot of free-kicks being awarded. The game came to life deep into the first half. A few minutes after Lorenzo Pellegrini chance Fernando tried to strike for Porto but was ultimately denied. From a free-kick situation a few minutes later Lorenzo Pellegrini connected with Kostas Manolas on a cross. The Greek Defender put his head through the ball narrowly missing. Following yet another free-kick by Lorenzo Pellegrini Edin Dzeko tried to get the opener but failed to convert as his header missed the target. Then at the very end of the first half, Edin Dzeko got into position again his strike from inside as hit shot clanged against the post to deny a fantastic opportunity to take the lead. That would signal the end of the first half with a scoreless game in the round of 16 of the Champions League.
A physical battle at the Olimpico in a scoreless first half
It was a very slow-paced first half as we saw barely any chances in the entirety of the 45 minutes. Roma had some chances late in the first half but other than that it was very slow the game really hadn’t developed up to that point. Roma did seem to have a little more control but it was still very much anyone’s game. The second half provided so much more. the attacking mentality grew into the game at least from Roma’s side of things. Very early in the second half, Nicolo Zaniolo set up Bryan Cristante who shot a very well hit shot saved. Just a moment later Lorenzo Pellegrini blasted a shot over the goal despite the bad shot Roma proved and we’re displaying that they were taking control of the game. Just a few moments later Roma was on the attack again as Lorenzo Pellegrini set up Stephan El Shaarawy who had another shot from Deep missing. It was a very encouraging start to the second half of Roma they were getting into the game they’re creating more chances they had yet to make Porto pay but it seemed like it was coming. Porto could get very few things going in the second house but they came close shortly after. Danilo Pereira put his head through a cross hit from Alex Telles missing just wide after being struck from the six-yard box. After a brief chance from Porto Roma again reiterated themselves in control of the match as Lorenzo Pellegrini who was all over the place came very close. Pellegrini struck a shot from a header coming from Kolarov. His shot was eventually saved but Roma was certainly coming. Porto hardly got a sniff especially early in the second half. Lorenzo Pellegrini got into position again from a Bryan Cristante cross he struck a shot from the middle of the box but again saw his shot save. In the 70th minute, Roma’s opportunity arrived from a young star in the making. Coming off a cross from Lorenzo Pellegrini into the box and Dzeko tries to control the ball as he started to fall down he supplied a late pass to Nicolo Zaniolo has he hit the ground. The 19-year-old delivered his Champions League moment burying the ball into the bottom corner to give it Roma the 1-0 lead in the Champions League round of 16. It would be his first Champions League goal of his career he has really turn the corner as he truly is becoming a superstar. Just a few minutes later he nearly scored again. He hit a ball from a Lorenzo Pellegrini cross in a very difficult angle as goalkeeper saved the opportunity. In the 76th minute Roma’s opportunity came again. Edin Dzeko from inside the Box hit the bottom right post. The ball rebounded off the post as it fell to the feet of Nicolo Zaniolo. The teenager scored again putting the ball in the back of a mostly open net to give Roma the 2-0 lead.
Nicolo Zanilio introduces himself to European football as the 19-Year old scores twice
An absolutely historic moment becoming the youngest player to score multiple goals in a Champions League match. Edin Dzeko deserves a lot of credit on the play as he created the opportunity and nearly scored himself if it wasn’t for the post he would have. Unfortunately 3 minutes later Porto would get the away goal they were looking for as Adrian Lopez found the back of the net Porto finding themselves the back in the tie. Roma makes a change as Lorenzo Pellegrini came out for Steven Nzonzi. They made another change just a few minutes after that as Davie Santon replaced Nicolo Zaniolo. Both Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo played a huge role in Roma getting the lead as they received a standing ovation from the supporters. To concede an away goal is always tough but Roma looks as if they were going to find a way to the finish line. Justin Kluivert replaced Stephan El Shaarawy as the young teenager got some a run out. In stoppage time Alex Kolarov tried to kill off the tie with a late goal but his shot from a difficult angle was saved signaling the end of the match. Roma takes their advantage into the second leg. The away goal is a tough pill to swallow but a quality performance from Roma give them a great chance and opportunity to make their second Consecutive quarterfinals. Di Francesco and Roma should be pleased with the results they take this advantage into Portugal.
Roma put themselves in front as they take some momentum inter the second leg.
Roma get a big win at the Stadio Olimpico in the Champions League furthermore proving that this team is built for knockout football. Roma is a team the has the underdog mentality. Even though they were favored in this match with all the inconsistencies they have dealt with this season an upset by Porto was speculated by many. Despite a relatively flat first-half from both teams Roma do the job displaying a quality performance in the second half that sees them go into the second leg with a lead. This game more than anything else was the Champions League awakening of Nicolo Zaniolo. Roma’s 19 year old scored a pair of goals within 10 minutes of each other give Roma the 2-0 lead. He certainly has shown he is the future of Italian football. He became the youngest player to ever score two goals in a Champions League match. Roma have been searching for the next young star since Francesco Totti retirement Roma have found their star and on the biggest stage he delivers on two occasions. Unfortunately shortly after that second goal Porto got an away goal. It was really frustrating given that the Portuguese side did not create anything hardly in the second half. Roma controlled the game and dominated the run play. Despite conceding Roma put in a real quality performance. Roma are more than capable of finishing the job in Portugal during the second leg. It took Roma 10 years to get to the quarter-finals before they did last year. Roma are in position to make the quarter-finals in consecutive seasons. This team is built for knockout football and if Roma play to their best Roma will be quarter-finalists again. I thought the Midfield played exceptionally well Lorenzo Pellegrini got his team involved as much as he could with some super passing. Edin Dzeko commanded himself up front even supplying an assist putting together an extraordinary strong performance. The majority of the Roma team that played very well collectively they put in a performance of quality. The man of the match tonight’s game is the man of the hour Nicolo Zaniolo to perform like that at his young age was absolutely Sensational the 19 years old he scored two goals on the biggest stage. Roma need to make some minor improvements and if they do there is no doubt Roma will be represented in the Champions League quarter-finals for the second consecutive year if they stay focused they will finish the job.
Man of the Match: Nicolo Zaniolo (2)
BY THE NUMBERS
On Target: 9
Pass Accuracy: 73%
On Target: 2
Pass Accuracy: 80%