Goals from Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique helped Barcelona cruise past an extremely unlucky AS Roma side in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Out the five goals that were scored over the course of the match, only two were by Barcelona players. The first two goals scored in the game were by Daniele De Rossi in the 38th minute and Kostas Manolas in the 55th minute, both unlucky deflections that left Alisson helpless.
In the 59th minute, Gerard Pique put his side three goals to the good after Alisson saved Luis Suarez’s shot at goal and it fell kindly for the Spaniard. Edin Dzeko then pulled one back for his side after Diego Perotti found him in the box from the left flank.
Luis Suarez then scored what could very well have been the final nail of the coffin, when Denis Suarez’s low cross was blocked by a defender and the Uruguayan pounced on the resulting rebound to send a low shot into the bottom corner in the 87th minute. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen: 7
Had 2 major saves to make, and one was a superb one to rectify his own error. Besides that, he was a mere spectator for large parts of the game. Could do nothing to prevent Edin Dzeko’s goal.
Nelson Semedo: 8
Was lucky to not concede a penalty in the 9th minute after a lazy foul on Dzeko. Aside from that he did well, getting forward on a number of occasions and he completed only 1 less take-on than Lionel Messi. A tireless display and it was a good one, given that this was his first start since returning from a hamstring injury.
Gerard Pique: 9
Was the first Barcelona player to get on the score sheet, when he found himself in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a rebound from Alisson to tap the ball in to an open goal from five yards out.
Was extremely calm and composed at the heart of the Barcelona defence and dealt with whatever came his way with ease. Made important blocks, was good in the air, distributed well and won back possession for his side numerous times.
Samuel Umtiti: 7
Got away with an amateur foul on Lorenzo Pellegrini after the referee adjudged it to be just outside the penalty box. Played a big role in his side’s second goal after his initial shot bounced off the post, then off Kostas Manolas’s knee and then into goal.
Besides that, his defensive work was largely solid. Distributed well, was good in the air and dealt with the threat of Dzeko the best he could and for the most part, managed to keep him quiet.
Jordi Alba: 7
Was at fault for Dzeko’s goal. Didn’t position himself properly to prevent the big striker from having a shot. That was his only fault and the rest of his performance was a good one. Barely got forward on the night and spent most of his time defending his own flank.
Sergi Roberto: 7
Was allowed to play further forward in a midfield position, perhaps a tactical decision on Valverde’s part to try and keep Diego Perotti subdued. Made some good tackles and tried to get forward as much as possible. Subbed off in the 83rd minute as Barcelona tried to run down the clock.
Ivan Rakitic: 7
Hit the post in the 17th minute with a sneaky, curling effort. Played an important role in Barcelona’s second goal after a slick one-two with Messi on the right flank. Attempted a few more shots, but nothing came off them. Did well both on and off the ball and helped keep his side ticking.
Sergio Busquets: 7
The Spaniard had a good game in midfield, doing what he does best. Played out some good passes, kept things moving in the middle and distributed intelligently. Helped his side take control of midfield and Radja Nainggolan’s absence certainly helped. Started to look a bit tired in the second half and was eventually subbed off in the 65th minute.
Andres Iniesta: 7.5
Iniesta’s square ball which was initially meant for Messi, was deflected into the net by De Rossi. The Spaniard did well to keep things moving in the middle of the park. He did take some time to take control of the game, but then slowly found his rhythm after the half hour mark.
Played out some great passes and was confident on the ball. Got himself into some good positions and dominated the ball in midfield, before being taken off in the 85th minute.
Lionel Messi: 7.5
Not his best night in a Barcelona shirt this season. The Roma defence kept themselves compact and stood their ground, especially against him. He tested Alisson numerous times from distance, but the Brazilian was up to the task. Still Barcelona’s biggest attacking threat on the night, but unfortunately couldn’t get on the scoresheet himself or provide an assist.
Luis Suarez: 8.5
After 13 months, at last. What a relief it must’ve been for the Uruguayan to get a European goal after what is an eternity considering his usually lofty standards. It was a poacher’s goal from Suarez and it may very well be the goal that sends his side to the semi-final.