AS Roma successfully breeze past Bodo/Glimt in the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League, winning 5-2 on aggregate.
Roma will now face English side Leicester City in the semi-finals of the second-tier European club competition.
With this result, the Italian team has successfully broken the curse of the Norwegian team that had beat them twice this season already.
Brendan Rodgers’ men will surely be wary of their Italian opponent with such a dominant performance against their usual nemesis.
It will also be a battle between former colleagues. Rodgers was an assistant to Jose Mourinho during his first stint at Chelsea.
Nicolò Zaniolo’s hat-trick was the answer that cleared off the one-goal deficit that Roma came with into the game.
The Norwegians had won the first leg 2-1/after fighting back from a goal down.
It could thus be said that Mourinho’s men had the last laugh in their fourth meeting of the campaign with the Norwegians. In the group stage, Bodo/Glimt won 6-1 at home and drew 2-2 at the Stadio Olimpico.
In the return leg, no drama much like the first leg, Bodo coach Kjetil Knutsen and Roma goalkeeping trainer Nuno Santos were provisionally suspended, awaiting an investigation over an ugly altercation.
It proved to be the right time for Zaniolo, who returned to the starting XI, as did Ola Solbakken after missing the first leg with flu symptoms.
Roma opened the scoring in five minutes, which levelled the aggregate.
Tammy Abraham scored from five yards from a short corner from Zaniolo, which went beyond Bryan Cristante at the near post. The goalkeeper could only parry it into the path of Abraham, who made no mistake in converting it.
In search of the winner, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Abraham skimmed the upright from promising moves.
The hosts then doubled their lead from an excellent team goal, putting Roma 3-2 up on aggregate.
There was an exchange of one-touch passes involving Mkhitaryan, Abraham, and Lorenzo Pellegrini, which sent Zaniolo through to slide it past Nikita Haikin one-on-one.
After Hugo Vetlesen’s snapshot was smothered, Bodo got caught out on a corner by the Nicola Zalewski counter-attack. His top-class through ball to Zaniolo was finished with a delightful lob for 3-0.
Abraham failed to get a brace after another fumble from Haikin from Pellegrini’s strike. The English man stumbled as he went for the rebound, then tested the goalkeeper from a tight angle.
Zaniolo the bagged his hat-trick after holding off Marius Holbraten from Cristante’s floated a ball over the top. He bounced it along with his head and then smashed into the far top corner with his left foot from 10 yards.
Zaniolo could have scored another, but his shot was saved. He later went off with cramp to a standing ovation from the Olimpico crowd.
Written by: Oladipupo Mojeed