There are moments that can change the course of a season. Roma needed three points against Qarabag to gain definitive access to the next round of the Champions League.
These are the moments when anxiety blocks your muscles and does not make you think efficiently. Although Roma managed the operations during the first half, the giallorossi missed a few easy chances to score the opener. Qarabag, instead, demonstrated its defensive efficiency, the same showed off in the double match against Atletico Madrid when the Spanish side collected only two points in 180 minutes.
The Lupi kept the ball trying to break the deadlock, however, its 64% possession and 418 touches were not enough to put Di Francesco’s men in front. Fans were also concerned about the match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. Antonio Conte’s guys had a few chances to make the Roma fans happy but Oblak’s extraordinary performance kept the result leveled at Stanford Bridge.
Everything had to be decided in the second half. There was no more room for fear and Di Francesco’s crew started with a different competitive nastiness trying to get an early lead. While Chelsea repeatedly went close to the opener thanks to Hazard‘s multiple great plays, the Lupi closed the Azerbaijan team in their own side of the field.
When Luis Felipe hit the post with a great shot from outside the box, Diego Perotti scored his third Champions League goal of his career warming up the fans.
Roma’s atavistic predisposition to suffering entered the game. Just three minutes after the Lupi scored the opener in Rome, Atletico Madrid scored its goal too. Saul’s header after a corner-kick deflected by Fernando Torres put Simeone’s men ahead and a lot of pressure on the team of the Italian capital. When Chelsea missed other two great opportunities to score the equalizer at the 66 minutes, the ghosts of an unhappy day seemed to prevail.
An infuriated Di Francesco pushed his men to create more dangerous opportunities trying to double the lead. At the same time, Chelsea’s offensive efforts were rewarded. Hazard scored the equalizer with a shot deflected by Savic at the 74 minute giving Roma a mental and emotional advantage.
The last ten minutes were thrilling both in London and Rome. When the referee decreed the final whistle at the Stadio Olimpico, the Roma fans celebrated the access to the next round of the Champions League getting the leading position of the GROUP C.