Relief for Salah after Roma hang on
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Once again Roma threw away a two-goal lead over Bayer Leverkusen but this time they got a winner and Mohamed Salah recounted his relief to UEFA.com.
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AS Roma's UEFA Champions League hopes were dangling by a thread with just ten minutes of their clash with Bayer 04 Leverkusen remaining.
Once again, the fine line between having an awe-inspiring attack and a threadbare defence had been laid bare at both ends of the field, Roma throwing away a two-goal lead just as they had done at the BayArena a fortnight ago.
The difference this time was the sting in the tail, supplied by Miralem Pjanić's penalty. It turned not only the game, but also qualification from Group E on its head; it was born out of necessity. "We scored a third goal, which was important for us because we had to win today and that, I think, is the most important thing," Mohamed Salah told UEFA.com.
"I think it was very important for us. I like to play in the Champions League and I hope we can win the next two games because it's important for us to qualify from the group. I think also today was a good game for us and it was very important. I hope we get a good result in our next two games."
The Egyptian had inspired a furious Giallorossi first-half assault on a Leverkusen defence which struggled to cope with wave after wave of counterattack, fuelled by the pace of Salah on the right and Gervinho down the left, running them ragged.
Salah celebrated his goal after just 100 seconds at the Stadio Olimpico, and it was a sign of things to come. Leverkusen, whose coach Roger Schmidt boldly stuck to his attack-minded approach, played into Roma's grateful hands.
Roma could have had a four-goal advantage come half-time, such was the power of their attacking triumvirate. Edin Džeko missed their best chance, and already thoughts started to drift back to two weeks ago.
Indeed, they were given a rude awakening at the start of the second half "I don't know [what happened], we started the second half badly and conceded two goals," he said. There was still time to turn things back in their favour, however, and with the knowledge that a draw would have left their destiny out of their own hands, they found that winner.
Nevertheless, the job is only partly done. "We have to win [our next two games], but we also have to see what Bayer Leverkusen do," Salah said. "We will see. It's going to be very difficult against Barcelona away, but we will go there to get a good result and we'll see what will happen."
Certainly Roma will have to strike a better balance between attacking and defending when they head to the Camp Nou, but the strength of their Salah-inspired attack on Wednesday night will give them enough belief that they can at least unsettle the holders on their own patch.
It may then come down to their final group game, again at the Olimpico, against BATE Borisov, but Roma have at least eked out an advantage. And that, according to Salah, is all that counted on matchday four.