Officials favoured Barca, says Roma boss

Above: Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrating after scoring his team's fourth goal and ending a personal 10-game Champions League goal drought. Left: Roma's Edin Dzeko tumbling to the ground after contact from Nelson Semedo in the penalty area with the
Above: Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrating after scoring his team's fourth goal and ending a personal 10-game Champions League goal drought. PHOTO: REUTERS
Above: Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrating after scoring his team's fourth goal and ending a personal 10-game Champions League goal drought. Left: Roma's Edin Dzeko tumbling to the ground after contact from Nelson Semedo in the penalty area with the
Above: Roma's Edin Dzeko tumbling to the ground after contact from Nelson Semedo in the penalty area with the match still goal-less in the 10th minute. Referee Danny Makkelie, however, did not deem the incident worthy of a spot kick.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BARCELONA • Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco blamed his side's 4-1 Champions League quarter-final, first-leg defeat at Barcelona on unfavourable refereeing decisions and misfortune, after his side scored two own goals and had two penalty appeals turned down on Wednesday.

Dutch referee Danny Makkelie waved away Italian cries for a spot kick when Edin Dzeko was pushed over by Nelson Semedo early in the tie and later awarded a free kick instead of a penalty when Samuel Umtiti tripped Lorenzo Pellegrini.

Roma captain Danielle de Rossi unwittingly put Barca ahead late in the first half as he slid to block a through ball and sent it fizzing into his own net, and Kostas Manolas hit the post and bundled the ball over the line 10 minutes after the interval to double the hosts' lead.

"Danielle made an error that can always happen and Manolas also had bad luck so of course we made mistakes, but Barcelona are good enough without receiving help from the referees," di Francesco told reporters.

"The Semedo challenge on Dzeko was a clear penalty and we could have had another with Pellegrini. It's very unfair given how well we played tonight."

Dzeko concurred with his coach's assessment, telling Italian TV that it was the turning point of the match.

"If they (the match officials) gave us that penalty, the game would have changed. We too are in the quarter-finals and deserve respect," the Bosnian said.

Gerard Pique added a third shortly after Manolas' own goal and Luis Suarez restored Barca's three-goal advantage after Dzeko had pulled one back for the Serie A side following a late flurry of chances.

Although it was far from a typical virtuoso attacking display from Barca, who had Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets back in their starting XI after injury troubles, Suarez rejected suggestions that Ernesto Valverde's men were lucky.

"If we don't get to the area with good combination play, those goals can't happen," said the Uruguayan, who ended a drought of 10 Champions League games without a goal.

"We had a lot of chances to score and their 'keeper (Alisson Becker) had a great game. The result is not unfair."

Pique also felt that Barca had made their own luck.

"We hit the post a couple of times and the own goals happened because we kept on putting them under pressure," he added.

Barca will, however, head to Italy next week with a place in the last four firmly in their grasp and Ivan Rakitic was pleased despite Barca not being at their best.

"The truth is we know that in the game we can and we must improve in several points," the Croat said.

"But we're very happy for the work. When maybe you're not playing at 100 per cent, you have to stay together, to be strong."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2018, with the headline 'Officials favoured Barca, says Roma boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe