Roma ended its poor away record in the Champions League with a labored 2-1 victory at Qarabag on Wednesday. Kostas Manolas and Edin Dzeko gave Roma a comfortable 2-0 lead inside the opening quarter of an hour, but Pedro Henrique reduced the deficit in the 28th minute with Qarabag’s first ever goal in the Champions League.
“In this match it was more important to win than to play well,” Dzeko said. “We should have finished it off in the first half, instead we conceded the goal and we suffered. But at the end we got the three points.”
Though Roma had only won one of its past 13 matches on its travels in the competition, beating Basel in 2009, it was hopeful of ending that run against Qarabag, which had been humiliated 6-0 at Chelsea in the opening round.
Qarabag duly gifted the visitors a seventh minute lead when goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic poorly punched a corner straight at Lorenzo Pellegrini, who volleyed it in for Manolas’ diving header.
Roma doubled its advantage eight minutes later with a well-worked move that ended with Stephan El Shaarawy flicking a cross into the area. Dzeko chested the ball down before lifting it above Sehic – with his shot clipping the underside of the bar on its way in.
It was Dzeko’s sixth goal in his past four matches.
However, Roma paid the price for its complacency when Maxime Gonalons was caught in possession by Dino Ndlovu who sent in a through ball for Henrique to blast into the back of the net.
Qarabag dominated possession in the second half but never really threatened, although Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco brought on experienced midfielder Daniele De Rossi in an attempt to gain more control of the match.
The home side almost snatched an equalizer in the final minute but Ndlovu headed just past the left post.
Atletico Madrid, which drew 0-0 at Roma in the opening round, hosts Chelsea later in the other Group C match.