AS Roma weather Ajax storm to reach Europa League semifinals
Sports Desk, Apr 15 (EFE).- A goal by veteran striker Edin Dzeko derailed a budding Ajax comeback on Thursday to send AS Roma through to the Europa League semifinals 3-2 on aggregate.
Roma started the night with a one-goal edge after their surprising 1-2 victory in the first leg in Amsterdam, but without any illusions that defending that advantage would be easy.
While the visitors dominated with 72 percent possession, Roma matched them in shots on target with three and kept their composure after conceding twice – the second Ajax goal was ruled out – before the Bosnian secured the tie.
The first chance of the night fell to Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose fairly tame effort posed no problems for Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Roma were celebrating in the 8th minute after Jordan Veretout scored from close in, but the offside flag went up.
Nicolas Tagliafico and Dusan Tadic fell short for Ajax and Stekelenburg thwarted Pellegrini a second time before the sides went to the dressing rooms deadlocked at 0-0 on the night.
The Dutch squad made a change to start the second half, replacing Antony dos Santos up front with Brian Brobbey and the striker made it a contest by chipping the ball over advancing Roma keeper Pau Lopez to level the tie at 2-2 in the 49th minute.
Tadic appeared to put Ajax ahead seven minutes later only for the goal to be taken down after VAR detected a foul by Tagliafico on Roma’s Henrikh Mhkitaryan during the buildup.
As the match entered the final 20 minutes, Dzeko culminated a Roma counter with a strike into the bottom corner to restore the lead for AS Roma, who held on to win the tie.
Roma, seeking their first trophy since lifting the Coppa Italia in 2008, will contend with Manchester United in the semifinal. EFE