Wednesday December 12 2018
CL: Roma freeze in Plzen

Roma knew they were second in the Champions League group, but the 2-1 defeat to Viktoria Plzen is still another blemish on their recent form.

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The Giallorossi were already qualified in second place behind Real Madrid, but Viktoria Plzen needed to at least match CSKA Moscow’s result to be sure of a Europa League spot. Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini were still sidelined, but Robin Olsen, Federico Fazio and Alessandro Florenzi were rested. The Czech club missed Daniel Kolar and Michael Krmencik.

Dzeko scored a hat-trick when Roma won 5-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, but while Javier Pastore fired over early doors, Plzen wasted the first big chance with Jan Kovarik ballooning over from 12 yards after Cengiz Under failed to cut out the pull-back.

Milan Havel tripped Aleksandar Kolarov right on the edge of the penalty area, around 30 centimetres from being a penalty for Roma.

Plzen again went close with Kovarik’s dangerous ball flashing across the face of goal, but Tomas Chory was inches away from making contact from a couple of yards.

News filtered through that CSKA Moscow were 2-0 up away to Real Madrid, so Viktoria Plzen knew they had to step up and beat Roma or miss out on the Europa League.

The hosts were therefore more aggressive after the break, Cermak’s first time shot from 10 yards skimming the crossbar to land on the roof of the net.

Moments later, Schick went down under an apparent trip, but the referee waved away penalty appeals.

However, Plzen broke through on 62 minutes when Jan Kopic was given plenty of time and space down the right to roll across the face of goal, Davide Santon failing to intercept, so Kovarik could tap in at the back post.

However, six minutes later Santon made up for the error. He got away down the right and pulled back to the edge of the area, where Cengiz Under placed a snooker shot in off the inside of the far post to equalise.

Viktoria Plzen restored their advantage straight away, though. Santon was again shaky, as Kovarik held him off to control a Milan Petrzela floated pass, his shot was parried by Antonio Mirante, but Tomas Chory got the rebound with a header.

It was nearly 3-1 moments later, as substitute Petrzela left Ivan Marcano for dead only to skim the near post from seven yards.

Luca Pellegrini’s cross-shot tested the goalkeeper and Bryan Cristante drilled just wide, but Roma ended the group with another setback.

To make matters worse, Luca Pellegrini received two yellow cards in three minutes for nasty challenges, the first a very late and high tackle, the second jumping with elbow raised.

CSKA Moscow incredibly won 3-0 at the Bernabeu, meaning Viktoria Plzen go through with this victory to the Europa League.

Viktoria Plzen 2-1 Roma

Kovarik 62 (V), Cengiz Under 68 (R), Chory 72 (V)

Viktoria Plzen: Hruska; Havel, Hejda, Hubnik, Limbersky; Prochazka, Hrosovsky; Kopic (Petrzela 71), Cermak (Horava 81), Kovarik; Chory (Reznicek 87)

Roma: Mirante; Santon, Marcano, Manolas, Kolarov; Nzonzi (Luca Pellegrini 79), Cristante; Under, Pastore (Zaniolo 59), Kluivert; Schick

Ref: Taylor (ENG)

Sent off: Luca Pellegrini 92 (R)

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