Football news - Roma take narrow lead over Porto thanks to Zaniolo double
Champions League, Stadio Olimpico – AS Roma 2 (Zaniolo 70’ 76’) Porto 1 (Lopez 79’)
Roma will take a one-goal lead into their Champions League second leg against Porto after a narrow win at the Stadio Olimpico.
Nicolo Zaniolo bagged a quick-fire brace in the second half to put the Italians ahead in the tie, only for Adrian Lopez to pull back a crucial away goal.
The parity between the sides was clear from the outset of a closely contested affair, where both sides were content to sit back and wait for counter attacking opportunities.
VAR was called into action when the ball struck Pepe’s hand on the edge of the area under pressure from Nicolo Zaniolo. The video referees either judged the handball was accidental or outside the area, as their review did not stop play.
Dzeko came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 when he latched onto a superb long ball from Federico Fazio, before cutting past his defender and unleashing a close-range shot that Iker Casillas parried onto the post.
Dzeko collected a Stephan El Shaarawy cross in the box before laying it off for the 19-year-old, who struck low and confidently inside Iker Casillas’ far post.
Zaniolo doubled his tally six minutes later, with Dzeko’s help once again. The Bosnian’s low 20-yard drive hit the inside of the post and rebounded directly into the teenager’s path. He cooly struck into an empty net as Casillas failed to recover from the initial shot.
Moments later, Porto earned a valuable away goal when Andre Pereira’s mistimed shot landed in substitute Adrian Lopez’s path. The Spaniard volleyed brilliantly past goalkeeper Antonio Mirante, playing only his third game of the season.
The well-poised second leg will be contested at the Estádio do Dragão on Wednesday 6th March.
TALKING POINT: Will Roma go deep into this season's Champions League?
The Giallorossi made the final four last season and take a goal advantage into the second leg. However, the last time they faced Porto in this competition, in the 2016-17 qualification round, they suffered a 3-0 loss to the Portuguese in the return fixture. Based on this performance, they should have enough to prevail in this tie, but their chances of progressing past the quarterfinals are diminished by a strong field.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Nicolo Zaniolo
Edin Dzeko, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Aleksandr Kolarov all put in commendable performances, but the evening belonged to teenage sensation Nicolo Zaniolo. His two goals were very well taken and a future with Roberto Mancini’s national side surely awaits.
39 - CHANCE! Fazio plays an excellent long ball to Dzeko in space in the box! The Bosnian cuts inside, beats his man and sees his close-range shot saved by Casillas! That's the best chance of the game so far.
70 - GOAL! Zaniolo puts Roma ahead! Dzeko receives a cross in the box and plays a square ball to the teenager, who finishes low across the face of goal, with a slight deflection!
76 - GOAL! Zaniolo doubles his tally! Roma break with Dzeko, whose low drive from 20 yards hits the post. The 19-year-old collects the rebound with a first-time finish!
79 - GOAL! Adrian Lopez gets the away goal! Andre Pereira's mishit from the edge of the box is volleyed beautifully by Adrian! VAR checks if the goal is onside - and we're all clear!
- There were just five shots in the first half - the worst tally in the Champions League this season.
- Porto have only won one Champions League knockout game away from home - the semifinal against Deportivo La Coruna in their winning 2003-04 season.
- Roma have not been beaten at home since October, which was also the last time Porto lost an away trip.