Champions League

Valverde admits Barca below par despite Roma win

2018-04-05 08:09
Ernesto Valverde.(Getty Images)

Barcelona - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admitted his side were well below their best despite beating Roma 4-1 in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.

Two own-goals, from Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas, and a close-range finish from Gerard Pique, presented the Catalans with a flattering 3-0 advantage at the Camp Nou before Edin Dzeko snatched Roma a late away goal.

But, just as the Italians looked to have grabbed a lifeline, Luis Suarez restored the three-goal cushion, by scoring a fourth in the 87th minute.

It means Barca will head to Italy next week with a place in the last four firmly in their grasp but this was not a virtuoso attacking display.

Instead, they benefited from two fortuitous own goals and some careless Roma finishing. They are unlikely to meet as generous an opponent in the semis.

"We did not that have continuity in the game," Valverde said. "We had some errors and there were times that we rushed into the attack, instead of having some control."

Barca also had referee Danny Makkelie to thank for not awarding Roma an early penalty, after Nelson Semedo pushed Dzeko in the back.

"They are already good on their own, they don't need help," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said.

"Tonight they had help both from the referee and from us."

After Cristiano Ronaldo's spectacular bicycle kick for Real Madrid on Tuesday, even Lionel Messi, back from injury, endured a slightly frustrating night, his shots and dribbles for once meeting opponents rather than the net.

Messi returned to the starting line-up after recovering from his hamstring complaint, as did Sergio Busquets, back after breaking his toe against Chelsea three weeks ago.

But while Messi completed the 90 minutes seemingly unscathed, Busquets had to be replaced by Paulinho midway through the second half.

"Busquets has played with some small discomfort for the injury he has," Valverde said. "In the end he was suffering a lot and we have changed it, but that's fine."

Barca led at half-time after De Rossi slid to prevent Andres Iniesta's pass reaching Messi and inadvertently stabbed into his own net.

Two goals in four second-half minutes then took the tie away from the visitors as Samuel Umtiti's finish cannoned off both the post and then Manolas, before Pique sidefooted home from close range.

Dzeko's finish might have given Roma hope had it not been cancelled out by Suarez scoring a fourth, as Barca wrapped up a win that did not wholly reflect a scrappy performance.

"The truth is we know that in the game we can and we must improve in several points," Barca's Ivan Rakitic said.

"But we're very happy for the work. When maybe you're not playing at 100 per cent, you have to stay together, to be strong. 5-1 would be better than 4-1, to be more calm, and we know Roma will try to turn it around."

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Tuesday, 02 October 2018
Juventus v Young Boys, Allianz Stadium 18:55
Hoffenheim v Manchester City, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 18:55
Bayern Munchen v Ajax, Allianz-Arena 21:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Shakhtar Donetsk, Groupama OL Academy Decines-Charpieu 21:00
Manchester United v Valencia, Old Trafford 21:00
AEK Athens v Benfica, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 21:00
Roma v Viktoria Plzen, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
CSKA Moskva v Real Madrid, VEB Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 03 October 2018
PSG v Crvena Zvezda, Parc des Princes 18:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Schalke 04, RZD Arena 18:55
Porto v Galatasaray, Estadio Do Dragao 21:00
Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:00
PSV v Internazionale, Philips Stadion 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Napoli v Liverpool, Stadio San Paolo 21:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona, Wembley Stadium 21:00
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
AEK Athens v Bayern Munchen, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 18:55
Young Boys v Valencia, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 18:55
Real Madrid v Viktoria Plzen, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:00
Ajax v Benfica, Johan Cruijff ArenA 21:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:00
Manchester United v Juventus, Old Trafford 21:00
Roma v CSKA Moskva, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
Hoffenheim v Olympique Lyonnais, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Club Brugge v Monaco, Jan Breydelstadion 18:55
PSV v Tottenham Hotspur, Philips Stadion 18:55
Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda, Anfield 21:00
Barcelona v Internazionale, Camp Nou 21:00
PSG v Napoli, Parc des Princes 21:00
Lokomotiv Moskva v Porto, RZD Arena 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Galatasaray v Schalke 04, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 21:00
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Monaco v Club Brugge, Stade Louis II 19:55
Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool, Stadion Rajko Mitic 19:55
Porto v Lokomotiv Moskva, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Internazionale v Barcelona, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Napoli v PSG, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v PSV, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Valencia v Young Boys, Estadio de Mestalla 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Roma, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Manchester United, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v AEK Athens, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid, Doosan Arena 22:00
Benfica v Ajax, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Hoffenheim, Groupama Stadium 22:00
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