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Champions League

Fred Tantalises Suitors As Donetsk Lead Roma Heading Into Second Leg

Let’s take a look at some of the main causes of discussion from yesterday evening’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash between Paulo Fonseca’s Shakhtar Donetsk and Eusebio Di Francesco Roma at the Metalist Oblast Sports Complex, as the hosts pulled off a shock against their Italian visitors.

Fred Magic Puts Shakhtar In Driving Seat

Many of Europe’s top clubs have reportedly been chasing Brazilian International midfielder and Shakhtar star Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos over the last few months, and last night, he showed the world exactly why.

With the sores even at 1-1 in the 71st minute, fellow exciting young prodigy Marlos was fouled on the edge of the area by Kevin Strootman, with Scottish referee Willie Collum signalling a dangerous free-kick.

It was always going to be Fred to step-up from that kind of range and he didn’t disappoint, curling a mesmerising effort in the near top corner, bulging the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar and giving fellow countryman Alisson Becker next to no chance of saving.

The unbelievable strike was the 24-year-old’s third of the season in all competitions, having endured an injury and suspension-hit campaign so far, and his first in the Champions League.

Aside from his match-winning moment of pure wonder 20 minutes from time, Fred also impressed in other areas and always looked a threat to goal, whether it be scoring himself or setting up others, the Brazil man certainly does look like something special.

Newcastle Reject Ferreyra Also On Scoresheet

Another man with a point to prove to the eyes of the footballing world yesterday in Kiev was Argentinian forward Facundo Ferreyra and much like Fred, he proved that point.

The tall striker spent the 2014/2015 season with Premier League side Newcastle United, where he was deemed surplus to requirements and written off, never making a single appearance for the Magpies.

But, having settled into life in Ukraine nicely, the former Argentina youth International is competing and scoring at the highest level of European competition.

His goal would prove vital to the home side’s second-half comeback and was taken with great skill, strength and composure to make the score 1-1, a mere seven minutes after half-time.

On the counter-attack, substitute Ivan Ordets pumped a through-ball forward that found Ferreyra, he was able to twist and turn to beat defender Kostas Manolas and slot the ball home underneath Allison, his third CL goal of the campaign.

Under Net Keys Away Goal For Italians

If there was one positive to take home back to the Italian Capital for the travelling the Yellow and Reds’ supporters, players and staff, it was surely their solitary away goal.

The Cengiz Under notch may just prove pivotal when the chips are down late on in this tie by counting for double should the scores be level at full-time in the second leg.

When it was scored mid-way through the first period, many thought it was going to be Roma’s evening, with them enjoying the better of the play in the first period.

The aforementioned Under was the man to get it four minutes from the half-time and it was also the Turk’s first ever goal on the big European stage in his first start.

And he will be very thankful to Edin Dzeko for it as he played a delightful pass through for Under to get in on Andriy Pyatov in the area, the pace of his shot enough to beat him despite a couple of touches, many may look back at that moment as being detrimental come three weeks’ time.

Favourites Roma Set For Early Exit

When these two teams were drawn to face each other in the Round of 16 of this year’s tournament, few would have backed the Ukrainian outfit to be in the driving seat at half-time.

The team from the Serie A were, in fact, very strong favourites to progress to the next round and now that very much looks to be in turmoil, they’ve got a hill to climb back in Rome, that’s for sure.

A huge part of this can be blamed on the Magic One’s not so magical defensive play, which has not been admired by many in the last couple of months, especially when they are on the road.

Fred’s late free-kick was the eighth goal in the Champions League that Roma have managed to concede in seven matches, lowlights in that run have included shipping three goals away at Chelsea and two away at Atletico Madrid.

If there’s one thing that may hold the Romans back from success in Europe, it may just lay in their back four, there is little doubting that if they want to keep their slim progression hopes alive back on home turf, the 1984 runners-up must tighten things up at the back.

What Next?

So, now that the matter of UCL football has been attended to for these two sides for the next few weeks at least, they will both turn their attention back to domestic league action, it’s now time to see who they will be facing off with next.

There is little time to rest from the Ukrainian winners of the first leg, who sit at the summit of the Ukrainian Premier League, welcoming Zirka to the Metalist Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Whereas, the She-Wolf will also be back in action this weekend, the club are currently a full 16 points off Serie A leaders Napoli, while sitting third and hosting AC Milan on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Fonseca’s and Di Francesco’s men will do it all over again for the second leg in just under three weeks, Tuesday 13 March 2018, to be more precise at 7:45 PM GMT, who will book their place in the Quarter-Finals? Join us once again then to find out.

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