Suarez ends drought as Barcelona put one foot in the last-four
Barcelona 4 Roma 1
Luis Suarez scored his first Champions League goal of the season to earn Barcelona a 4-1 victory over Roma in the first leg of their quarter-final.
The Catalans were not at their sparkling best but still proved far too good for Roma, who were unfortunate to score two own goals through Daniele de Rossi and Kostas Manolas before Gerard Pique added a third.
Edin Dzeko pulled one back in the 80th minute to keep Roma just about in the tie but Suarez netted three minutes from time to put Barca within sight of a first semi-final appearance in the competition for three seasons.
Barca boss Ernesto Valverde sprang a surprise in his team selection by leaving both Paulinho and Ousmane Dembele out, with Nelson Semedo making the starting line-up.
Roma were closing down Lionel Messi in numbers but still the Argentinian engineered a chance in the 11th minute, turning and firing in a shot that Alisson pushed away.
Barca came even closer seven minutes later when the lively Ivan Rakitic curled a shot that hit the post.
When the goal did come, it was a stroke of ill fortune for Roma. Andres Iniesta attempted to pick out Messi and, in stretching to cut out the pass, De Rossi applied a finish worthy of the Barca magician.
Roma responded well and, had Samuel Umtiti’s foul on Lorenzo Pellegrini come a second later, he would have conceded a penalty.
The visitors were still looking for a clear-cut chance and got one within seconds of the restart. Alessandro Florenzi’s superb cross beat the Barca defence but Diego Perotti headed badly wide.
It was a miss they would quickly regret as Barca began to lay siege to Alisson’s goal. They doubled their lead 10 minutes after the break when Messi and Rakitic engineered a short corner and the Croatian sent in a cross. Umtiti’s shot hit a post but the rebound went in off Manolas.
Alisson saved from Suarez in the 59th minute, but was beaten for a third time when Pique tapped in the rebound.
Roma needed something to give themselves a sniff, and Dzeko applied the finishing touch.
But their hard work was undone seven minutes later when poor defending was emphatically punished by Suarez.