Edin Dzeko was the hat-trick hero as Roma crushed Viktoria Plzen 5-0 to get their Champions League campaign back on track in emphatic style at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Bosnian had just one goal all season prior to kick-off, but repeated his feat of the 2016/17 Europa League campaign by putting three past the Czech side.
Goals from Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert added to the rout as the Giallorossi moved above Real Madrid on goal difference into second place in Group G.
The anthem was barely over when Dzeko put the hosts in front, as the Bosnian sprung through a botched offside trap and arrowed an accurate finish past visiting goalkeeper Matus Kozacik.
Cengiz Under thundered a long-range effort off the crossbar after half an hour, but the home fans didn’t have to wait much longer to get their second. Dzeko latched onto Under’s cross, chesting it down and powering a half-volley in from close range.
Alessandro Florenzi could have made it three before the break, but he was denied by an excellent reflex stop from the foot of Kozacik when one-on-one.
The third did eventually arrive and it was Under who got it as he met Lorenzo Pellegrini’s through-ball and slotted past the goalkeeper in the 64th minute. Dzeko could’ve had a hat-trick soon after, but Kozacik’s right foot again came to Plzen’s rescue as he blocked a fierce low shot from the Bosnian.
Kluivert added to the rout with 17 minutes remaining as he scored his first goal for Roma, pouncing on a poor piece of goalkeeping to slot in from close range. And with the last act of the game, Dzeko headed in from a corner to complete his hat-trick.
Will the real Dzeko please stand up?
Dzeko saved Roma on day one of the season, finding an exquisite finish to grab a late, and arguably undeserved, win away to Torino. Since then, however, the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker has struggled for form and is still searching for his second league goal of the season after going through a five-match drought.
This was much more like it from the 32-year-old, who was back to his best as he bullied the Plzen defence and rediscovered his clinical edge in front of goal. His first was a superbly placed finish, while his second was all about power and his third a reminder of his aerial prowess. Roma are motoring again after their early-season blip – this was a signal that Dzeko might be now too.