Dzeko strikes to take Roma into Champions League last eight

Edin Dzeko edges the Giallorossi past Shakhtar. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Dzeko strikes to take Roma into Champions League last eight

ROME: Roma reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 10 years as Edin Dzeko edged them past Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday and allowed the Italians to win the tie on away goals.
The Bosnian striker’s 52nd-minute goal proved enough after a 2-1 first-leg loss in Ukraine, with 10-man Shakhtar failing to find the late strike they needed after Ivan Ordets was sent off late on.
Cengiz Under’s goal in the first leg last month ultimately proved crucial for Roma, but Dzeko was the hero on the night and also proved instrumental in Shakhtar defender Ordets being shown a straight red card with 12 minutes left.
That sending-off led to tensions spilling over, with Shakhtar’s Facundo Ferreyra picking up a booking for shoving a ballboy over an advertising board.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are the second Italian team to advance to the quarter-finals after Juventus, with the draw for the last eight taking place on Friday.
“The standing ovation is not for me but for everyone, we are deservedly in the quarter-finals,” said Dzeko of the applause which accompanied him off the pitch.
“We managed to do something Roma hadn’t in 10 years, so going forward to play against the best makes us all very proud.
“We are among the eight best sides in Europe.”
Roma did not concede a goal at home in the group stage and hammered Chelsea 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, so the home fans in the crowd of 47,693 would have been confident their side could get the job done.
The Ukrainians dominated early possession though, and there was a scare for the hosts when Alessandro Florenzi nearly nodded a free-kick into his own net.
Ferreyra then came close after Federico Fazio lost the ball just outside his own box, before Roma struck seven minutes into the second half.
Kevin Strootman sent Dzeko through as Shakhtar tried without success to play the offside trap, and the Bosnian forward prodded a shot through the legs of goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov and into the net for his fourth goal in the Champions League this season.
Dzeko was then brought down by Ordets who got a straight red card for his troubles, making Shakhtar’s task that bit harder.

“We knew that sooner or later they would make a mistake and we’d pounce on it,” said Roma coach Di Francesco.
“If we face any opponent with this attitude and determination, we can go far.”
“Roma made the most of a single moment,” said Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca.
“Dzeko of course was a key player, but apart from his goal they didn’t have a chance, we had possession. If we had finished off the chances we had in the first leg the match would already have been over.”
Roma held on, and after Italy’s shock failure to qualify for the World Cup, their progress to the last eight along with Juventus is a boost for the country.
There have not been two Italian clubs in the quarter-finals of the Champions League since 2006/07, when Roma joined eventual winners AC Milan in the last eight.
There will also be at least three Italian coaches in the quarter-finals — Di Francesco, Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus and Vincenzo Montella of Sevilla.
Di Francesco added: “I spoke with Montella a few days ago and we said we’d meet in the final.”
Antonio Conte could make that four with his Chelsea side facing Barcelona on Wednesday.


Jose Mourinho’s sacking leaves the ‘Special One’ at a career crossroads

Updated 5 min 26 sec ago
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Jose Mourinho’s sacking leaves the ‘Special One’ at a career crossroads

  • Since the middle of last season, Mourinho had been involved in a power struggle with senior members of the playing squad
  • A string of uninspiring performances since the season started saw Mourinho come in for criticism from all sides

LONDON: Five years after being snubbed for the Manchester United job immediately after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho has once again been unceremoniously rejected by the club after two-and-a-half fractious and tumultuous years at the helm.
And the truth is, it was an inevitable divorce.
Since the middle of last season, Mourinho had been involved in a power struggle with senior members of the playing squad, openly criticized board members for a lack of backing in the transfer window and the majority of fans had started to turn on the so-called “Special One” and his tactics.
And while they would never do so publicly, no doubt several of the players who had fallen foul of Mourinho’s wrath were privately breathing a sigh of relief when the club announced that Mourinho had left the club with “immediate effect” on Tuesday.
Indeed, the player Mourinho clashed with the most — £89 million ($112 million) midfielder Paul Pogba — deleted a controversial social media post of himself smiling after the news broke.
That controversy was a microcosm of the French World Cup winner’s stormy relationship with Mourinho.
But the former Juventus player, who retuned to Manchester United having already been with the club during the Ferguson era, was repeatedly criticized by Mourinho during his reign and Pogba was stripped of the United vice-captaincy earlier this season.
The pair were captured having a frosty exchange on the training ground as Mourinho grew angry with his key midfielder’s lethargic performances, dropping him on several occasions to spark talk he would be sold by the end of the season.
And even on the pitch, the writing has been on the wall for a while.
A string of uninspiring performances since the season started saw Mourinho come in for criticism from all sides, as the Portuguese became more and more embittered and paranoid in his dealings with the media.
The final straw for the club was Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, who United usurped as the biggest club in England under Ferguson’s 27-year reign. And the Scot was seen shaking his head as he watched his dynasty unravel in front of his eyes at the hands of United’s bitterest of rivals.
While the Merseyside club battle it out for the Premier League title with Manchester City and Tottenham — all playing a refreshing, exciting brand of football — United find themselves 19 points adrift of the summit and struggling to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Mourinho’s stagnant, defensive approach jarred with supporters, some of whom have only known the rampant attack-minded approach the club used to such devastating efficacy under Ferguson.
Mourinho was brought in to bring back those glory days after David Moyes and then Dutchman Louis van Gaal struggled to step out of Ferguson’s shadow.
And despite first-season League Cup and Europa League titles, he has failed miserably since. And he has bought himself little good grace with fans and officials, finding new excuses and ways to blame each latest defeat on his players, while ungraciously reminding critics of previous successes at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
But this ignominious end for Mourinho in what he called his “dream job” leaves him at a crossroads in his career. Few clubs will have been inspired by his playing style with a highly-talented team, even fewer will want to deal with the off-field tantrums and constant bickering.
Having arrived in English football as a breath of fresh air, he leaves it (for now) like a foul odor. With the prospect of no club to manage, no trophies to win and no teams to build, Mourinho is now much less the “Special One,” and more and more likely to be the “Tainted One.”