Roma were rampant in the Europa League last 32 first leg, winning at Villarreal 4-0 and putting this tie out of question for the Spanish side.
First half goal from Emerson was followed up in the second half from Edin Dzeko, the Bosnian second hat-trick of the Europa League this season
Roma Edin Dzeko had the first real opportunity of the game after a quick paced opening 20 minutes. Dzeko managed to turn the Villarreal defenders and scuff a low effort wildly wide of Sergio Asenjo goal. The opening which Roma dominated possession and territory but have found it hard to break down a compact Villarreal side who have been organised in a 4-4-2 formation. The Yellow Submarine have been trying to sit back and hit Roma on the counter attack.
Samu Castillejo had Villarreal first opportunity on goal, after quick one touch football. Castillejo fired in a left-footed effort over Allison goal from distance. That was Villarreal first real foray into the Roma half as they have been camped into their own half trying to break down Roma attack.
Daniele De Rossi played in Kevin Strootman with a lovely left footed lobbed pass, but the Dutchman went with the shot from a tight angle which fired into the side netting. The better option would have been an inviting cross for the Roma forwards to attack. At the other end, Bruno Soriano played a lovely diagonal free kick into the run of the Villarreal right-back Mario Gaspar who had a header straight at Alisson.
Roma managed to hit their hosts on the counter-attack at swift pace, left wing back Emerson crossed in for Edin Dzeko who had a header straight at Sergio Asenjo. Moments later Roma took the lead and it was Emerson with the goal. The Brazilian left wing back cut in from the right-hand side and with his wrong foot curled a lovely into the top corner leaving the goalkeeper flatfooted and watching the ball fly into the back of the net.
Roma were pushing for a second goal in the first half and cap an excellent first 45 minutes, Daniele De Rossi curled in a lovely free kick from deep which was headed clear by the Villarreal defence. The ball fell to Radja Nainggolan who took aim for distance but got his effort horribly wrong and sliced over the crossbar.
In added time of the first half, Roma broke again on the counter attack and caused Villarreal defence problems once again. Goalscorer Emerson just kept running and running from the left-hand side unchallenged and hit an angle drive which was parried away to safety.
Villarreal started the better in the second half and really should have equalised with a brilliant solo goal. Cederic Bakambu broke free into the Roma half and hurdled challenges with ease but fired an effort over the bar from close range after he got his feet in a bit of a muddle. A sigh of relief for Roma early in the second half.
Once again Villarreal were causing Roma problems and a brilliant cross in from the right found Mario Gaspar and his diving header was brilliantly saved by Alisson from point blank range. The home side were pinning Roma back early in the second half but were finding it hard to break down the Roma defence.
Roma doubled their lead in the 64th minute and added the crucial second away goal. Mohamed Salah who just came on for Stephan El Shaarawy broke down the right-hand side, played in Edin Dzeko who sent a dummy on his defender and slotted his effort into the bottom corner with utter calmness.
Roma added a third on the 79th minute and put this tie almost out of sight for Villarreal. Edin Dzeko netted his second of the game and his 8th in his last 7, Dzeko latched onto a long ball from Emerson and hit a low effort which was parried in by Asenjo in off the crossbar.
The gloss was added to the scoreline and it was the hat-trick for the Bosnian Bomber Edin Dzeko, Dzeko turned his defender and hit a low left-footed into the far corner to settle the tie and take home the match ball.
What an away performance from Roma, they put out a statement tonight in the Europa League meaning business. Edin Dzeko will get the headlines with his hat-trick but Emerson and Kevin Strootman were unsung heroes in the Roma midfield.
Roma took the game to Villarreal and the home side couldn’t handle the counter-attacking football in the second half. That was one of Roma best European displays for a long while, could this side go a long way in this Competition and not get embarrassed like two years ago, who knows.