Roma booked their place in Friday’s Europa League Last 16 draw with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Gent, having sealed a 1-1 draw on Thursday.
The Lupi fell behind on the night to a well-taken Jonathan David finish, but hit back quickly as Justin Kluivert raced on to a Henrikh Mkhytaryan through ball to restore Roma’s advantage.
Victory over the two-legged tie keeps Roma’s hopes of European glory alive, but the Italian outfit struggled to impose themselves for vast periods at the Ghelamco Arena and were let off by numerous wasted opportunities by the hosts.
Roma avoid European collapse
For a short time it looked a familiar tale of Roma faltering on the European stage and watching progression inexplicably slip through the grasps.
Having edged a tight first leg 1-0 win last week, the Giallorossi found themselves a goal down and under intense pressure against Gent on Thursday. It has become a common trend for Roma to bow out of European competition with little more than a whimper, and Paulo Fonseca’s team threatened to do so once more.
The panic only lasted a mere five minutes as Kluivert broke free to land a crucial away goal and restore Roma’s aggregate lead, but Gent enjoyed the better of the chances and saw several opportunities fly inches past the woodwork. Ultimately, Roma were professional enough to see out the win and book their spot in the next round.
Europa League can salvage underwhelming season
After an extremely positive start to life under Fonseca, Roma’s season began to unravel alarmingly after Christmas. The Lupi are well off the pace in Serie A and are struggling to claw their way back into Champions League qualification contention, whilst Juventus dumped them out of the Coppa Italia.
Recent form on the domestic front has improved however, and despite a platitude of injuries the team have rediscovered their goalscoring touch.
Without a trophy since 2008, the capital club are crying out for silverware and a strong run in the Europa League could provide the perfect remedy.
Having overcome Gent, Fonseca must ensure focus is given to continental football and his Giallorossi can be considered one of the more illustrious names remaining in the competition. A trophy in May could change the mood in the capital considerably and turn a poor season into something more memorable.