Edin Dzeko took his goal tally against Viktoria Plzen to eight in five games with a second consecutive hat-trick against the Czech champions as Roma got their Champions League campaign back on track with a 5-0 win.
After slipping to a 3-0 reverse against Real Madrid in their Group G opener, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side took charge against Plzen who gave Dzeko the kind of space he has been craving all season as he netted two first-half goals.
The Bosnian striker scored a hat-trick against Plzen in the Europa League in 2016-17 and history repeated itself, but not before he provided a key contribution towards Roma’s third, which was scored by Cengiz Under.
Justin Kluivert scored his first goal for the club, stroking the ball home after Under’s effort was saved, before Dzeko rose to head home a corner in the dying moments of an excellent night for Di Francesco’s men.
#ASRoma #UCL #RomaPlzen pic.twitter.com/bKEEvpSThY
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 2, 2018
Aleksandar Kolarov’s well-timed throughball allowed Dzeko to beat the Plzen offside trap inside three minutes and, taking aim with his left foot, steer the ball accurately into the far corner of the net beyond Matus Kozacik.
Plzen were pinned back until the 20th minute, when Reznik sent a free header narrowly wide from close range, but Roma soon resumed their dominance and Under crashed a wonderful dipping effort onto the crossbar as they pushed for a second.
That goal arrived when Under floated the ball into the box, where Dzeko chested it down and lashed it high into the net to leave Roma comfortable at the break.
Under used the instep of his left foot to guide the ball around Kozacik for Roma’s third after neat build-up play from Dzeko and Lorenzo Pellegrini, and the Turkish winger’s rebounded shot afforded Kluivert the chance to add a fourth with a shot that bounced over the stranded goalkeeper.
Federico Fazio had a goal ruled out for offside before Dzeko made amends in the 92nd minute, powering a header into the bottom left corner of the net from Alessandro Florenzi’s corner.
Cengiz Ünder + Justin Kluivert + Edin Džeko = #UCL pic.twitter.com/UncFb2nisY
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 2, 2018
What it means: Dzeko back in the groove
Roma arrived at this fixture with two wins from their last two games and extended their good form but the performance of hat-trick hero Dzeko, who had just one goal to his name this season before the game, will have delighted Di Francesco.
Nzonzi the steady hand Roma need
Roma’s season threatened to unravel when they went five games without a win but the way Steven Nzonzi is anchoring their midfield, sitting deep and giving team-mates a constant option against Plzen, is helping to transform their fortunes.
Krmencik fails to shine on the big stage
Michael Krmencik has been in fine form for Plzen this season and he scored twice in their Champions League group stage opener against CSKA Moscow but he cut a lonely figure in Rome, failing to capitalise on the few chances that came his way.
Plzen, who are second in the Czech First League on goal difference, face Teplice at home on Sunday, while Roma travel to Empoli looking for their first Serie A away win since the opening day of the season.