Roma secured their passage to the Last 16 of the Europa League with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Gent, courtesy of a 1-1 draw at the Ghelamco Arena on Thursday.
Trailing from the first leg, the Belgian hosts took an early lead as Jonathan David found space in the box to tuck a low cross home. However, Roma wasted little time in responding, with Justin Kluivert sprinting onto a through ball and firing the Giallorossi into the next round of the competition.
Despite dominating the second half, Gent were unable to find an equaliser and were sent crashing out, whilst Roma booked their place in the draw for the next round.
Roma came within inches of a perfect start, as Aleksandar Kolarov found space on the left and clipped the outside of the far post with a low drive across the face of goal in the opening minute.
At the other end, Vadis Odjidja worked his way through midfield to tee up Roman Bezus, but the Ukrainian’s tame effort was easily stopped by Pau Lopez.
Meanwhile, Chris Smalling was on hand to produce a brave close-range block after David looked certain to tuck away a in-swinging freekick in a crowded box.
Gent piled on the pressure as they looked to reverse a 1-0 first leg defeat, and levelled the tie midway through the first half. Bezus collected possession on the right and swung in a deep cross, with David ghosting in between Roma’s centre-backs to steer the ball beyond Lopez.
The lead only lasted four minutes however, as Roma hit back. Henrikh Mkhytaryan pinched the ball in midfield and burst forward, before playing a pinpoint through ball for the on-rushing Kluivert to slide home first time. The Dutchman showed blistering pace to reach the ball on the edge of the box before Michael Ngadeu could intercept the pass.
Yet, Gent were almost ahead once more just one minute later. Milad Mohammadi found space out wide and sent in a low cross for David to pivot and hit first time, but the Canadian’s effort whistled inches past the post.
After the break, Gent continued to push forward and David sliced a half-volley over the bar from inside the box. On the hour mark, captain Odjidja came agonisingly close as he met a low cross with a clever side-footed volley, but the ball curled the wrong side of the upright.
Roma lacked a cutting edge at the other end of the pitch, as they looked to soak up pressure and counter but failed to take their chances. A clever Bryan Cristante pass set Kluivert free but the young winger stalled in the box and was dispossessed before he could pull the trigger.
Despite heavy pressure, the Giallorossi held out for an aggregate victory to seal their place in the Last 16 of the competition.