Roma 3 CSKA Moscow 0: Dzeko turns on the style

Edin Dzeko continued his fine run of form in the Champions League by scoring twice and setting up another to lead Roma to a 3-0 victory over CSKA Moscow in Group G.

Following a hat-trick in Roma’s last Champions League outing against Viktoria Plzen, Dzeko was at his best again on Tuesday, taking the game away from CSKA – who beat defending champions Real Madrid in their previous outing – in the space of 13 first-half minutes.

Having rounded off a superb passing move for Roma’s opener, the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker doubled the hosts’ tally with a typically composed finish in the 43rd minute.

Dzeko was not done there, though, claiming an assist five minutes into the second half when Cengiz Under hammered home to wrap up the points and move Roma up to second.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side were second best early on but went ahead on the half-hour mark, Dzeko nudging home from Lorenzo Pellegrini’s cutback at the culmination of an exquisite team move.

An under-hit pass towards Under stopped the former Manchester City striker from turning provider, while the impressive Nikola Vlasic tested Robin Olsen at the other end.

But Roma got their second when Stephan El Shaarawy teed up Dzeko, who made no mistake with a first-time effort into the bottom-left corner.

Roma showed no signs of slowing down after the restart and made it three when Under thumped in a half-volley from Dzeko’s knock-down.

Dzeko sent a header from inside the six-yard box wide to miss out on his hat-trick and a tremendous stop from Ilya Pomazun stopped Alessandro Florenzi from making the victory even more comprehensive in the 92nd minute.

What it means: Deadly Dzeko gives Roma the edge

Madrid may be in a poor run of form, but Julen Lopetegui’s side are still favourites to progress from Group G after a 2-1 win over Plzen.

This double-header between Roma and CSKA could have a significant outcome on a potential battle for second place and Dzeko, with his five goals in three Champions League appearances this term, could well be the difference for last season’s semi-finalists.

Pellegrini proves his worth

Dzeko will rightly take the plaudits, but credit must also go to Pellegrini. The former Sassuolo midfielder endured a difficult maiden season at Roma but showed his quality with a wonderful piece of skill and vision to set up the home side’s first goal, combining wonderfully with El Shaarawy before flicking the ball over Pomazun and into Dzeko’s path.

Goncharenko’s defensive approach fails

Vlasic impressed for CSKA once more, but apart from the midfielder being integral to a decent enough start, the visitors offered little threat once Roma scored their first. Coach Viktor Goncharenko will have to be more adventurous if they are to progress to the knockout stage.

What’s next?

Roma have a tough trip to Napoli on Sunday, while CSKA are up against fellow Russian Premier League title hopefuls Krasnodar in Moscow on the same day.


West Ham’s Pellegrini rejects Dzeko speculation

Manuel Pellegrini has denied West Ham are considering a January move for Edin Dzeko.

The Roma striker played for Pellegrini at Manchester City and he suggested this week he would be interested in a Premier League return.

“Regarding the Premier League, maybe it’s too late,” he told Sky Sports News. “You never know.

Dzeko hit 16 Premier League goals as Pellegrini’s City won the 2013-14 title, but he later fell out of favour and joined Roma in 2015.

Pellegrini, though, said Dzeko is not on his radar when he spoke at a news conference on Thursday.

“You can talk about five, six or seven players that are linked with us,” Pellegrini told reporters.

“We must not talk about one player. I know him well but we are not thinking about that at the moment.”

West Ham host Tottenham in a London derby on Saturday and Pellegrini expects Marko Arnautovic to be available to lead the line.

“He’s okay,” the Chilean continued. “He played just one game [for Austria in the international break]. 

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“He has worked with the squad without any problems. He must be careful with his knee.”

Pellegrini’s side face the challenge of keeping England captain Harry Kane quiet at the London Stadium.

“Harry Kane is one of the best players in the Premier League, maybe the world,” Pellegrini said. “They have a lot of international players, they have a complete squad.”


Bosnia-Herzegovina 2 Northern Ireland 0: Dzeko double leaves O’Neill’s side on the brink

Northern Ireland are on the brink of relegation in the Nations League after Edin Dzeko’s double earned Bosnia-Herzegovina a 2-0 win in Sarajevo.

Having taken full advantage of Jamal Lewis’ calamitous error midway through the first half, Dzeko – who also had a seemingly legitimate goal disallowed – wrapped up the points 17 minutes from time.

The Roma striker’s clinical finishing came in stark contrast to Northern Ireland’s profligacy, with substitute Gavin Whyte passing up the best of some golden opportunities when he struck the woodwork from point-blank range.

One point for Austria in their two remaining games, which includes a trip to Windsor Park, will send Michael O’Neill’s side down to the third tier, while Bosnia-Herzegovina just need a draw to clinch promotion to League A.

George Saville should have done better from Steven Davis’ pinpoint cross after quarter of an hour and the midfielder went closer five minutes later when his half-volley rattled the right-hand upright.

Northern Ireland’s bad luck continued in the 27th minute, Edin Visca pouncing on Lewis’ slip to tee up Dzeko, who made no mistake with a tidy first-time finish.

Lewis could have been at fault for a second Bosnia-Herzegovina goal when he appeared to play Dzeko onside from Miralem Pjanic’s set-piece, but the assistant referee’s flag spared his blushes after a blistering volley from the striker.

Whyte looked set to haul Northern Ireland level in the 66th minute, only for the 22-year-old to somehow hit the post from six yards out with the goal gaping.

The visitors were made to pay when Dzeko beat the offside trap to curl beyond Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

The woodwork again denied Whyte in stoppage time as Northern Ireland failed to stop Bosnia-Herzegovina extending their 100 per cent Nations League record to three matches.

What it means: Profligacy proves costly

Northern Ireland have had no trouble creating opportunities in their Nations League campaign, but their failure to convert those chances into goals has piled too much pressure on their defence. The positive signs are there, but unless O’Neill’s side begin to hit the target, it does not bode well heading into Euro 2020 qualification.

World-class Dzeko

Dzeko had hardly touched the ball before slotting in the opener and he showed wonderful skill for the goal that was disallowed before finally getting his second late on. With his quality up top, Bosnia-Herzegovina will be confident of securing promotion to League A when they face Austria next time out.

Lewis at fault again

It has been a difficult start to life on the international stage for Norwich City youngster Lewis, who had now made errors leading to goals in all three of Northern Ireland’s Nations League fixtures. It was only Lewis’ fifth cap, but he will need to learn quickly if he is to cement a place in O’Neill’s side.

Key Opta facts:

– Bosnia-Herzegovina are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions, winning five and drawing three.
– Northern Ireland are winless in their last six away matches in all competitions, failing to score a single goal in that run (D2 L4).
– Two of Northern Ireland’s three shots on target in this match came in the final five minutes.
– Dzeko has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six competitive appearances for Bosnia-Herzegovina (five goals, two assists).

What’s next?

Northern Ireland face neighbours the Republic of Ireland in their next outing, before finalising their Nations League group campaign with a fixture against Austria, which will be a dead rubber if Franco Foda’s side avoid defeat against Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Dzeko: Premier League return? You never know

Edin Dzeko is “happy” at Roma, though the former Manchester City striker could be open to a Premier League return.

Roma star Dzeko was close to moving back to England in January but his transfer to Chelsea did not materialise after winning two league titles with City in 2012 and 2014.

The 32-year-old Bosnia-Herzegovina international is settled in Rome as time runs out for him to return to the Premier League.

“Regarding the Premier League, maybe it’s too late,” he told Sky Sports News. “You never know.

“I had four and a half great years there, and had fun every minute of every game. I love the Premier League and England, so we’ll see. At the moment I’m happy in Rome.”

The forward scored 50 goals in 130 total appearances during his stay in Manchester, which lasted from 2011-16 following a stint with Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.

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His best season came in 2013-14, as Dzeko scored 16 league goals while adding a further 10 in other competitions.

Since moving to Rome, the forward hasn’t slowed down, firing 78 finishes through 157 matches with the Italian club. 

Dzeko has scored twice in Serie A this season, while the veteran netted a hat-trick in Roma’s Champions League rout of Viktoria Plzen on matchday two.


Fantasy Football: Hat-trick heroes headline our Goal Champions League Team of the Week

This was the week of forwards in the Champions League. Three players scored hat-tricks during the latest round of play, with each propelling his side to a much-needed win. Paulo Dybala stepped up when needed as Juventus had to play without Ronaldo, Edn Dzeko broke his six-match drought in front of goal helping Roma pick up their first win of the tournament, and Neymar helped PSG get back on track after their opening loss to Liverpool.

Below you can find the eight other players that put in big performances for their clubs and your Fantasy sides this week!


GK: Roman Bürki – Dortmund – 1 Game, 5 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 9 Points

DEF: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

Bonucci’s performance against Young Boys was impressive and earned him a second consecutive spot in our Champions League Team of the Week. He didn’t just luck into his assist either, as he completed a team-high 83 passes on the day. Given their tendency to keep clean sheets and Manchester United’s struggles in front goal, Bonucci is someone you can feel confident in playing every week.

DEF: Aleksandar Kolarov – Roma – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DEF: Alex Telles – FC Porto – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

Alex Telles Porto

MID: Cengiz Under – Roma – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 2 Assists = 14 Points

Under was inches away from scoring the goal of the round but will have to just settle for his goal and two assists. The Turkish international isn’t known for his finishing, but the assists may well be here to stay as he leads the club in that category in both Serie A and the Champions League. It’s hard to imagine not owning at least one Roma player for the next round as they will get another opportunity to pile on the goals against Plzen.

MID: Marco Reus – Dortmund – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

MID: Erik Lamela – Tottenham – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

The Tottenham man is in remarkable form right now, having scored or assisted in every appearance he’s made for the club this season. Lamela is now tied as the third highest point earning midfielder in the Goal game and, assuming his injury isn’t too bad, he could have even more luck against Group B minnows PSV.

Erik Lamela Tottenham

MID: Philippe Coutinho – Barcelona – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

FOR: Neymar – PSG – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points

There’s been a lot of controversy and debate surrounding Neymar after the World Cup, but he certainly showed the goods on Wednesday. The Brazilian led all players in shots on target and touches in the box this round, as well as obviously bulging the net three times. We will see how PSG fare when they inevitably make it to the knockout stages but, for now, Neymar is a must own and a solid captain option every week.

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FOR: Paulo Dybala – Juventus – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points

FOR: Edin Dzeko – Roma – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points