Roma have qualified for the Round of 16, but paid the price for wasteful finishing in the first half and awful defending in the second, losing 2-0 to Real Madrid.
Both these sides already knew they were qualified for the Round of 16 before kick-off, as CSKA Moscow lost 2-1 at home to Viktoria Plzen. Sharing the top of the group on nine points each, this therefore became all about seeding. Both had a lot of injury problems, missing Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Javier Pastore and Diego Perotti. Real Madrid’s new Coach Santiago Solari left Isco in the stands, with Casemiro, Keylor Navas, Nacho, Alvaro Odriozola and Sergio Regulion unavailable.
Lucas Vazquez blatantly moved his hand towards the Aleksandar Kolarov flicked ball and slapped it, possibly inside the penalty area, but either way the referee waved play on. This will only intensify existing calls to have VAR introduced for the Round of 16 in the Champions League.
Dani Carvajal needed a desperate clearance under pressure from Stephan El Shaarawy as Cengiz Under sprung the offside trap and whipped in a taut cross, but on that move the Little Pharaoh slipped and injured himself. He had to come off a few minutes later to make way for Justin Kluivert, the only other available attacking player.
Robin Olsen had to make a tough save with his legs, as Luka Modric’s effort took a massive deflection, but Roma had a flurry of great opportunities.
Raphael Varane desperately managed to stop Kostas Manolas tapping in a corner, then there were four chances in quick succession. Carvajal used himself as a human shield on Federico Fazio, then Schick’s attempt was incredibly denied by an outstretched Thibaut Courtois foot and Kolarov drilled the follow-up wide.
Roma really should’ve taken the lead with the last kick of the half when Zaniolo rolled across for totally unmarked Cengiz Under, who somehow managed to fire over from a yard with Courtois already on the ground. The young Turkey international was distraught, consoled as he left the field almost in tears with Alessandro Florenzi.
Roma were made to pay for that wasteful finishing and even worse defending, because straight after the restart Federico Fazio’s awful back-pass gifted Bale the goal, sending him clear on the edge of the box.
Zaniolo threatened again, forcing a desperate Carvajal block at the back post, but Bale went on the counter and Olsen did well to rush off his line to narrow the angle.
As they have done before in the Champions League after a setback, Roma let their heads drop, got stretched out and were punished again 10 minutes later. It was another counter, as Bale floated a cross on to the head of Lucas Vazquez relatively unmarked.
The Giallorossi fell apart and were repeatedly caught on the counter. There still could’ve been a goal back for them, as Kluivert pounced on a poor back-pass and managed to steer the ball back across the face of goal, but Schick wasn’t there in time to meet it.
Kolarov got his body behind a Kolarov snapshot, but Roma had effectively vanished from the game after the opening goal. They left the field at the final whistle to very loud and rather unfair jeers, but a place in the Champions League Round of 16.
Roma 0-2 Real Madrid
Bale 47 (RM), Lucas Vazquez 59 (RM)
Roma: Olsen; Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Nzonzi (Coric 64), Cristante; Under, Zaniolo (Karsdorp 69), El Shaarawy (Kluivert 22); Schick
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, M Llorente, Modric (Valverde 80); Bale (Asensio 84), Benzema (Mariano Diaz 77), Lucas Vazquez
Ref: Turpin (FRA)