Sunday, January 22, 2017

Roma 0 BATE 0: Rudi Garcia´s side progress thanks to home point

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Dec 2015

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Roma made it through to the knockout stages of the Champions League after a 0-0 draw against BATE proved enough for them to clinch second place in Group E.

Despite drawing a blank on home soil, Rudi Garcia’s side still sealed progression to the next round of the competition for the first time since the 2010/11 season.

The point means Roma finish level with Bayer Leverkusen – who drew 1-1 at home with Barcelona – in the standings on six points, yet the Italians advance at the expense of the Germans thanks to a better head-to-head record.

They could have made things much easier for themselves had they taken any of the plethora of second-half chances they created, Edin Dzeko wasting the best of them when he could not convert a glorious one-on-one opportunity.

However, in the end they were indebted to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for keeping BATE at bay and picking up what proved to be a priceless point in the battle for qualification.

Roma were dealt a blow prior to kick-off when Gervinho was forced to drop out of the starting XI after picking up an injury in the warm-up, meaning Juan Iturbe was promoted from the bench.

Whether it was the late change to the team or the lack of numbers inside a subdued Stadio Olimpico, the hosts struggled to get going in the first half.

Radja Nainggolan twice had long-range attempts that were straight at Sergey Chernik.

The visiting goalkeeper did have to move to keep out a free-kick from Miralem Pjanic, sending the midfielder’s attempt away from goal with a firm, two-handed stop.

Set-pieces looked like Roma’s best hope of making a breakthrough. Antonio Rudiger failed to direct a header on goal from an Iago Falque corner, with Daniele De Rossi denied the chance to pounce on the loose ball by Aleksandr Hleb’s brave clearance.

BATE looked comfortable in defence throughout the first half, though they should have fallen behind shortly after the interval when a poor clearance allowed Pjanic to slip a pass through to Dzeko.

However, the striker – who has struggled for goals since joining on loan from Manchester City, netting five times in all competitions – fluffed his lines in front of goal, firing an effort straight at the advancing Chernik.

Alessandro Florenzi also went close, Chernik denying the winger with an excellent save at close range, while Rudiger planted a powerful header from a corner well wide.

Roma’s failure to take the opportunities that came their way led to a tense finale, and BATE looked set to throw the group wide open again when Mikhail Gordeychuk stretched to meet Maksim Volodko’s low cross, only for Szczesny to brilliantly deny him with a desperate dive.

The Polish goalkeeper was needed again to spare his side from falling behind in the 79th minute, making a triple save that proved crucial in the final reckoning.

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