Sports – UCL Quarter-Final: Dzeko Is Our Diamond’

Edin Dzeko on Tuesday proved his worth to Roma, when sealed a first UEFA
Champions League quarter-final berth for the club in a decade.

The 31-year-old had proposed a move to Chelsea in the winter transfer window but
the deal fell through, however, Dzeko helped the balance sheet of the club’s US owner
James Pallotta by securing Roma’s place in the last eight of Europe’s lucrative elite
competition.
“I didn’t want to go in January because I want to play these kind of games,” explained
Dzeko after his 52nd-minute goal clinched a place in the last eight after a 2-1 first-leg
loss in Ukraine amid scenes of euphoria in the Stadio Olympico.
Cengiz Under’s goal in the first leg last month ultimately proved crucial for Roma, but
Dzeko was the hero on the night and also proved instrumental in Shakhtar defender
Ivan Ordets being shown a straight red card with 12 minutes left.
“We managed to do something that had been missing for 10 years,” said
Dzeko. “Going forward and playing with big teams is a pride for all of us.”
Dzeko proved to be a leader on the pitch with Coach Eusebio Di Francesco giving
him a standing ovation at the end.
“It is not for me, but for everyone, we are deservedly in the quarter-finals,” said the
Bosnian after his fourth Champions League goal, and 18th in total for the club this
season.
“Dzeko is our diamond,” said Italian defender Alessandro Florenzi.
“It’s my first Champions League quarter-final, so it’s a euphoric moment,” added
Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan as Roma qualified for a third quarter-finals of
the modern Champions League.
“It’s really satisfying for me because I think we saw a team being born this evening,”
said Di Francesco. “We played a team game, a man’s match. We didn’t give them
anything.”
After Italy’s shock failure to qualify for the World Cup, Roma’s progress to the last
eight along with Juventus is a boost for the country.
Juventus have reached two finals in the last three seasons. The last Italian club to win
the title was Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho in 2010.
“There aren’t any teams I want to avoid,” continued Di Francesco looking ahead to
Friday’s draw. “Roma must not fear anyone. I want to continue to dream with this
team.”
There will also be at least three Italian coaches in the quarter-finals — Di Francesco,
Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus and Vincenzo Montella of Sevilla.
“I spoke a few days ago with Montella. We said we’d meet in the final,” said the
Roma coach.
“Joking aside, whatever the team we meet they will be welcome. In the meanwhile
we’ll prepare for the (Serie A) match against Crotone.”