EL: Dzeko and Roma eliminate Ajax

Edin Dzeko cancelled out the Brian Brobbey chip, allowing Roma to draw 1-1 with Ajax, winning 3-2 on aggregate to book a Europa League semi-final against Manchester United.

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The Giallorossi won the first leg 2-1 in Amsterdam, with Pau Lopez saving a Dusan Tadic penalty. Leonardo Spinazzola joined Chris Smalling, Marash Kumbulla, Stephan El Shaarawy and Nicolò Zaniolo on the injury list, with Bruno Peres suspended, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Rick Karsdorp returned from the start. Ajax had Devyne Rensch and Andre Onana banned, with Daley Blind and Nousasair Mazraoui injured, while Sebastien Haller was accidently left off the UEFA list. Perr Schuurs was only fit for the bench, but Maarten Stekeleburg was back in goal against his old club.

Lorenzo Pellegrini’s finish on the counter-attack was too weak to cause problems, and Jordan Veretout was offside when putting the ball in the net after eight minutes.

Pau Lopez almost gifted Ajax a goal with his terrible pass out from the back, but Amadou Diawara flung himself in the way to block the Tadic strike.

Tadic also tested Pau Lopez from eight yards on a Sean Klaiber pull-back, but it was during that move that the full-back sustained a muscular injury and had to come off.

While it was open for the first 25 minutes, Roma increasingly sat deep and stopped managing to get away on the counter, allowing Ajax over 70 per cent possession in the first half.

Striker Brian Brobbey came on after the restart and made an immediate impact. Within four minutes he’d run onto a floated Schuurs ball over the top, got between two defenders and dinked it over the on-rushing Pau Lopez.

It was 2-2 on aggregate, but Roma still had the advantage on away goals. They were, however, fortunate to see a second goal disallowed using VAR. Edson Alvarez fouled Mkhitaryan to win back the ball, Brobbey’s shot was parried by Pau Lopez into the path of Tadic, but the referee disallowed it after viewing the incident again.

Roma scored their much-needed goal with a well-worked move playing out from the back. Bryan Cristante started it, Veretout flicked on the pass first time to send Riccardo Calafiori down the left and his low cross was deflected, falling kindly for Dzeko to tap in. It was the Bosnian’s 30th goal in European competition for Roma.

Calafiori went off with a muscular problem soon after, while Gianluca Mancini was booked for dissent and will be suspended. Roma were also irritated with Anthony Taylor when he stopped play to book Nicolas Tagliafico during one of their counter-attacks.

Roma 1-1 Ajax (3-2 agg)

Brobbey 49 (A), Dzeko 72 (R)

Roma: Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Veretout, Diawara, Calafiori (Villar 80); Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan (Pedro 87); Dzeko (Mayoral 80)

Ajax: Stekelenburg; Klaiber (Schuurs 22) (Idrissi 83), J Timber, Martinez, Tagliafico; Alvarez (Kudus 69), Klaassen, Gravenberch; Antony (Brobbey 46), Tadic, Neres (Traore 83)

Ref: Taylor (ENG)

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