AS Roma reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the second successive season as second-half headers from Taddei and substitute Mirko Vučinić earned a memorable victory over ten-man Real Madrid CF.
Despite winning 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico two weeks ago, the Italian side were widely considered as outsiders against the Spanish champions and Primera División leaders, who had bowed out in the last 16 of this competition in each of the last three campaigns. Both teams had their chance in an open encounter, but the 71st-minute dismissal of Madrid defender Pepe finally tipped the balance in Roma's favour. Taddei duly headed the visitors in front two minutes later and, although Raúl González levelled with 15 minutes left, Vučinić struck in added time to ensure it is Luciano Spalletti's Roma who take their place in the draw on 14 March.
Both coaches had stressed the importance of concentration and the danger of committing errors, so it was perhaps no surprise that the cautious opening 15 minutes contrasted sharply with the thunderous welcome the sides received as they were led on to the pitch. Little was given away as Madrid probed down either flank and through the centre, with Roma content to sit back and wait for counterattacking opportunities. Soon enough, though, the chances began to arrive. Roma keeper Doni pushed away a fierce Julio Baptista shot and Alberto Aquilani delivered a delicate effort from distance that struck the post before Casillas kept out a thunderous attempt from the same player after Mancini had retrieved possession.
Robinho, however, started to find space as the half wore on and set about pulling the strings for Madrid. The Brazilian, high on confidence after two goals on Saturday, picked out Baptista with a looping pass only for his compatriot to hurriedly slice high and wide. Opportunities were coming at either end in quick succession, Aquilani flashing another long-range shot wide, and it was the Roma fans who were the happier as the referee brought the opening period to a close, roaring their favourites into the dressing room.
The second half was three minutes old when Madrid almost had the goal that would have levelled the tie, Baptista floating a free-kick over both the Roma wall and Doni yet being denied by the crossbar. The Serie A outfit responded accordingly and, after Simone Perrotta had collected the yellow card that rules him out of the quarter-final first leg, Casillas was again rescued by his crossbar, Vučinić rattling the woodwork from Max Tonetto's low cross. Madrid's ambitions then looked to have been all but ended in a disastrous three-minute spell as first Pepe earned a second yellow card for a block on Vučinić, then Tonetto's perfectly flighted left-wing centre was nodded beyond Casillas by Taddei.
Bernd Schuster's team revived their hopes almost immediately, Raúl sliding the ball in after good work from Guti and Robinho, and that was the cue for Madrid to throw men forward in increasing numbers in the last 15 minutes. Clear openings proved impossible to carve out, however, and two minutes into added time their challenge was extinguished as Christian Panucci floated in a right-wing free-kick for the unmarked Vučinić to head past the exposed Casillas.