Wednesday, April 4, 2018

BARCELONA, Spain -- Three quick thoughts from Camp Nou on Barcelona's 4-1 win over Roma in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
1. Barcelona take advantage
Two own goals, a Gerard Pique tap-in and Luis Suarez's first goal in Europe this season put Barcelona on track to reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time since they won the competition back in 2015.
Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas put through their own net either side of half-time as Roma imploded against a Barca side who never really hit the heights which have seen them remain unbeaten in La Liga and the Champions League this season.
Gerard Pique added a third on the hour mark before Edin Dzeko pulled a goal back 10 minutes from time. Suarez then ended a 10-game wait for a goal in the Champions League to leave his side in a commanding position going into the second leg in Italy on Tuesday.
Barca, who included Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets in their starting lineups after the duo recovered from recent knocks, dominated possession in the first half. However, Ernesto Valverde's team didn't look sharp. They laboured in the final third, with Ivan Rakitic's speculative effort off the post the closest they came to scoring in the opening 30 minutes.
When they did eventually take the lead, it was via a Roma mistake. Andres Iniesta's pass sought Messi but it found De Rossi, who turned the ball past his own goalkeeper Alisson with a fantastic finish. Roma had an immediate chance for an equaliser. Samuel Umtiti's foul on Lorezno Pellegrini was adjudged to have been on the edge of the box, not in the area, but the resulting free kick thumped into the Barca wall.
The tie then slipped from the visitor's hands in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Manolas scored the second own goal of the night -- and the fifth Barca have benefited from in Europe this season -- and Pique later tapped home after good work from Messi and Suarez.