Barcelona 4-1 Roma: Late Luis Suarez strike gives Ernesto Valverde's side advantage
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 05/04/18 6:14am
Barcelona were far from their best but managed to secure a 4-1 first-leg victory at the Nou Camp to take full control of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Roma.
Ernesto Valverde's side struggled for rhythm for much of the game against the Italian side, but built a three-goal advantage thanks to own goals either side of half-time from Daniele De Rossi (40) and Kostas Manolas (55) and a tap in from Gerard Pique (59).
Edin Dzeko gave Roma a late glimmer of hope heading into next week's second leg at the Stadio Olimpico by scoring an away goal, but Luis Suarez (87) landed a late blow as Barca put one foot in the last four.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Roberto (6), Semedo (6), Pique (7), Umtiti (6), Alba (6), Rakitic (8), Busquets (6), Iniesta (7), Messi (7), Suarez (6).
Subs: Paulinho (6), Andre Gomes (6), Denis Suarez (6).
Roma: Alisson (7), Peres (7), Fazio (6), Manolas (6), Kolarov (7), Strootman (7), De Rossi (6), Pellegrini (7), Florenzi (7), Dzeko (7), Perotti (8).
Subs: Gonalons (6), El Shaarawy (6), Defrel (6).
Man of the match: Ivan Rakitic.
Barcelona enjoyed a 6-1 win over Roma in their last Champions League meeting in November 2015 and they might have thought they were on their way to another comprehensive win when Suarez had the ball in the back of the net in only the seventh minute, but the strike was correctly ruled out for offside.
It was the tale of the two former Premier League strikers in the early stages as, minutes later, Dzeko tumbled in the Barca box under a challenge from Nelson Semedo, but Dutch referee Danny Makkelie waved away the appeals.
The chances continued to fall for the hosts as Ivan Rakitic's strike rebounded off the post before Alisson diverted Suarez's goalbound strike beyond the far post.
However, they eventually took the lead just before the break and the goal came in fortunate circumstances. De Rossi slid in ahead Lionel Messi - who would have been in on goal - with an excellent challenge just inside the penalty area but unfortunately for the Italian, the ball ended up beating Alisson and nestling in the bottom corner.
After the break, Roma missed a glorious chance to pull one back when Diego Perotti headed wide from close range and they were punished when Pique tapped home the rebound from close range after Alisson palmed away Suarez's shot.
Barcelona needed Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make superb saves to deny Gregoire Defrel and Perotti, but the visitors eventually got their away goal 10 minutes from time.
Ernesto Valverde made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Sevilla at the weekend. Busquets, Messi and Semedo returned to replace the cup-tied Philippe Coutinho and Dembele and Paulinho, who both drop down to the bench.
Roma also made three changes with Peres, Pellegrini and Dzeko replacing Nainggolan, El Shaarawy and Schick from the side that drew 1-1 at Bologna.
Perotti's pass picked out Dzeko on the penalty spot and the former Manchester City striker used his strength to hold off Jordi Alba before steering the ball into the bottom corner.
Eusebio Di Francesco's side were heading to next Tuesday's second leg with a lifeline but their hopes were eventually dashed when Suarez pounced on a poor touch from Federico Fazio to score his first Champions League goal in over a year and put his side on course for the semi-finals.
- Barcelona have won 20 of their last 21 Champions League games at the Camp Nou (D1), including each of their five games this season.
- Roma have conceded 11 goals in their three Champions League trips to Barcelona - more than against any other side on the road in the competition.
- However, the Serie A club are just the third different side to breach Barcelona's defence at the Camp Nou in the last 10 Champions League games after PSG and Olympiakos.
- Kostas Manolas's own goal was the 13th that Barcelona have benefited from in the Champions League; only Real Madrid (15) have benefited from more. In fact, Barcelona have benefited from five own goals this CL season, the most ever in a Champions League season.
- Roma are just the fourth side in Champions League history to score two own goals in a single game and the first since Galatasaray in September 2015 against FC Astana.
- Andres Iniesta made his 21st quarter-final appearance in the Champions League; no player has more (also, Ryan Giggs and Xavi).
- Only Roberto Carlos (16) and Ivan Helguera (15) have scored more goals than Piqué (12) amongst defenders in the Champions League.
- Edin Dzeko has had a hand in 58% of Roma's 12 goals in the Champions League this season (5 goals, 2 assists).
- After failing to score with his first 30 shots in the Champions League this season, Luis Suarez finally scored with his 31st effort.
Man of the Match - Ivan Rakitic
On a night when many of Barca's star names looked far from their best, Rakitic held things together for the La Liga leaders in the middle of the park.
Neat and tidy in possession, the Croatian almost broke the deadlock in the first half, beating Alisson but not the post with his strike.
He also played a part in his side's second goal, his cross picking out Samuel Umtiti before Manolas put the ball into his own net.
Barcelona return to La Liga action on Saturday when they host Leganes at the Nou Camp, live on Sky Sports Football from 7.40pm.
Roma are also back in league action on Saturday, playing Fiorentina in Serie A (5pm).
The second leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie between the two sides takes place at the Stadio Olimpico next Tuesday.