Edin Džeko's second-half strike secured Roma's UEFA Europa League semi-final spot against a dominant Ajax.
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Brian Brobbey's cute second-half goal ignited a tense match, but Edin Džeko pounced to see Roma over the finish line.Roma vs Ajax: as it happened, reaction
Match in brief
As Paolo Fonseca’s men dug in to protect their first-leg advantage, Ajax dominated a tense first-half. However, lacking in creativity, the Dutch side failed to trouble the tightly guarded Roma goal.
Half-time substitute Brian Brobbey's deft touch over Pau López, from a class Perr Schuurs ball, put Ajax in front and brought the match to life. Roma were shaken, and Ajax were shifting through the gears, but against the run of play, Riccardo Calafiori's deflected cross fell kindly for Edin Džeko, who was ready to pounce and secure Roma's place in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.
Vieri Capretta, Roma reporter
The Giallorossi decided to defend, and in the end it just about paid off. They knew Ajax needed two goals and opted to sit back. When things seemed to be going wrong, Džeko scored the crucial goal that shifted the momentum back in Roma's favour. Fonseca's team defended well, were lucky at times, but over the two legs proved to be a solid and clinical side, able to sit back when needed and score the necessary goals.
Derek Brookman, Ajax reporter
This elimination will be intensely frustrating for Erik ten Hag and his players, because they can justifiably claim to have been the better side over the 180 minutes. However, especially at this level, it's about taking the chances that come your way, and that missed Dušan Tadić penalty in the first leg proved to be the turning point. Just like in other recent European campaigns, Ajax will garner plenty of praise but fell short when it comes to prizes.
Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma midfielder: "We knew Ajax were a great side. We've shown how we are growing. We’re happy, but we’re only in the semi-finals and we still have to play three matches – we want to play three matches!"
Paolo Fonseca, Roma coach: "I believe we had a good game at the back. We had more problems in Amsterdam. Ajax are a great side, especially up front. We are proud to represent Italy, we're proud and satisfied to be in the semi-finals."
Erik ten Hag, Ajax coach: "It’s frustrating. The best team has been eliminated. The team that dominated both matches. It’s such a shame. Just like last week we created plenty of chances but failed to take advantage of them."
Davy Klaassen, Ajax midfielder: "If you look at the tie over two matches, we were the better side. But that doesn’t mean anything. We knew they would be content to protect their 2-1 lead, and it was difficult to break down their defence."
- Roma have lost only one of their last 21 home European matches.
- Roma have conceded a total of just three goals in their last seven UEFA Europa League home games.
- Ajax are undefeated in their last seven visits to Italy in UEFA club competition (W3 D34).
Roma: Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Ibañez; Karsdorp, Veretout, Diawara, Calafiori (Villar 81); Mkhitaryan (Rodriguez 87), Lorenzo Pellegrini, Džeko (Mayoral 80)
Ajax: Stekelenburg; Klaiber (Schuurs 22, Idrissi 83), Timber, Martínez, Tagliafico; Álvarez (Kudos 69), Klaassen, Gravenberch; Antony (Brobbey 46), Tadić, Neres (Traoré 83)
Roma now face Manchester United in the semi-finals, with the first leg on 29 April and the return a week later. Before then they will resume their push for Serie A's European places with games against Torino (18/04), Atalanta (22/04) and Cagliari (25/04).