Shakhtar Donetsk came to Rome for a rematch having beaten AS Roma in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 by 2-1. A very dangerous result – one that constitutes as an advantage, but one goal can be enough to completely change the matter.
An even first-half contest
Trailing by one goal from the first leg, Roma started the game strong. They threatened twice through Edin Džeko within five minutes, but his shot after only 20 seconds was too tame to trouble Pyatov in Shakhtar’s goal, and then he was caught offside.
But then the visitors broke through and pushed the Romans back. After they had a few minutes’ domination of their own, the game slowly became an even, interesting contest. Both teams were going for sharp defending and quick transition into attack, making the game highly dynamic for a while. Roma had a lead to chase, while Shakhtar played like they weren’t satisfied with the fact that one goal conceded would see them go out of the competition.
In the 24th minute the home side played a nice team move and caused a scramble in Shakhtar’s box but Pyatov was alert. Then the visitors tried twice in quick succession, but first Kolarov defended well and then Tyson’s effort from range went comfortably over the bar. Džeko had a feeble penalty appeal denied, and then Federico Fazio lost the ball at the back, enabling Shakhtar striker Facundo Ferreyra to charge towards the goal, but Fazio recovered well and corrected his mistake. After a Kolarov corner, Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan took a strong shot from range but it was blocked.
Shakhtar were playing a bit more patiently, keeping more of the possession and exchanging more passes, but Roma looked just as good with their direct play. Five minutes before the break, Cengiz under broke through and ran straight at Pyatov, but the linesman’s flag was rightly raised for offside.
Straight after that, poor ball-control inside Roma’s box by Ferreyra allowed Kolarov to deftly take it off his foot.
A lively second half
After the break, the visitors were calm and in complete control of the game for a while.
And then, one detail changed everything. A failed offside trap by Shakhtar left Džeko onside and free, one-on-one with Pyatov, and the Bosnian striker was ruthless. Suddenly, Roma were the team that had the result they needed in their hands, forcing Shakhtar into playing more openly. This allowed Roma to threaten on a counterattack immediately, but Diego Perotti’s shot from around 15 yards was too tame to trouble Pyatov.
Nerves were slowly creeping in for the visitors. Misplaced passes and balls lost too easily became traits of their game, and Roma’s counterattacks became frequent and threatening. Džeko failed to capitalize from two good such opportunities in quick succession, and Gerson, who came on for Cengiz Under after 65 minutes, ruined another one by hesitating and shooting straight at the player in front of him.
And then, 12 minutes from time, Džeko broke through again and was pulled down from behind by Ivan Ordets, which saw the Shakhtar defender rightly sent off.
The frustration of the visitors doubled as they now had to charge forward with ten men. And yet, Roma fell completely back under their pressure with even Džeko dropping almost to the edge of his own box. Three minutes before the 90 were up, De Rossi brought down Alan Patrick just over 20 yards from the goal, but Patrick slammed the resulting free-kick from a very good position into the wall.
The last few minutes turned into a contest of nerves. Substitute Dentinho wasted a great chance to score a shocking equalizer in the 93rd minute and that was it.
ROMA: Alisson, Florenzzi, Kolarov, Fazio, Manolas, De Rossi, Nainggolan, Strootman, Under (Gerson, 65’), Perotti, Džeko ( El Shaarawy, 89’).
SHAKHTAR: Pyatov, Butko, Ismaily, Rakitskiy, Ordets, Fred, Stepanenko (Patrick, 74′), Bernard, Marlos (Dentinho, 82’), Taison, Ferreyra.
Goal: Džeko (52’).
Yellow cards: Florenzi (39’), Manolas (54’), Stepanenko (71’), Fred (76’), Ferreyra (80′)
Red card: Ordets (79’)
ROMA: Alisson 7, Florenzzi 7, Kolarov 8.5, Fazio 7.5, Manolas 7.5, De Rossi 7, Nainggolan 8, Strootman 8, Under 7, (Gerson, 5.5), Perotti 7, Džeko 8.5 ( El Shaarawy n/a).
SHAKHTAR: Pyatov 7.5, Butko 6, Ismaily 6.5, Rakitskiy 7, Ordets 7, Fred 7.5, Stepanenko 6 (Patrick 7), Bernard 7, Marlos 5.5 (Dentinho n/a), Taison 7.5, Ferreyra 6.5.
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