'An absolute joke': Roma furious over referee's decisions

ABS-CBN Sports on May 03, 2018 08:41 AM
'An absolute joke': Roma furious over referee's decisions
Roma's Alessandro Florenzi reacts at the end of the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Roma and Liverpool at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Liverpool advanced to its first Champions League final in more than a decade despite a 4-2 loss at Roma on Wednesday. The Reds scored two early goals and that was all they needed to advance 7-6 on aggregate after a 5-2 win in the first leg. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press

ROME (AP) — First it was Juventus. Now it's Roma.

Both Italian clubs were eliminated from the Champions League following questionable decisions by the referee. And both are demanding that the video assistant referee (VAR) be installed immediately in the top club competition.

The VAR has already been introduced in Serie A this season and will also be used at the upcoming World Cup in Russia for the first time.

"There were two clear penalties not given — and a red card," Roma sporting director Monchi said after the Giallorossi were eliminated from the semifinals on 7-6 aggregate despite a 4-2 win over Liverpool on Wednesday.

"The time has come for Italian football to raise its voice. Well done to Liverpool, of course. But these things need to be reviewed. I do not understand why VAR is not used in the most important club competition there is."

Roma protested to no avail for a hand ball on Dejan Lovren in the first half, a potential penalty committed on Edin Dzeko after the break, then a clear handball by Trent Alexander-Arnold shortly after the hour mark.

"You just can't let stuff like this go," Roma's American president Jim Pallotta said. "The handball (on Alexander-Arnold) was obvious to probably everyone in the world except the referee on the pitch.

"If we don't get VAR in the Champions League stuff like this is just an absolute joke."

Less than a month ago, Juventus was fuming over the penalty that resulted in its elimination from the quarterfinals.

English referee Michael Oliver called the penalty in the third and final minute of stoppage time, leading to Cristiano Ronaldo's goal that meant Real Madrid advanced on 4-3 aggregate.

"We've got the technology to avoid these mistakes," Juventus president Andrea Agnelli said at the time. "UEFA isn't against the VAR, it just has a technical problem that needs to be resolved. If the problem is instructing the referees from all of the federations then let's take some of them aside and set up a quick course."

UEFA's hesitation is due to the fact that the Champions League involves so many countries, many of which — like in the English Premier League — don't use the VAR domestically.

Still, a bigger problem for Roma was conceding two goals in the first half of both legs against Liverpool.

"We gifted them two goals thanks in part to our naivety," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said, referring to defensive lapses. "But after that we had them on the ropes. The boys did something amazing. It was almost the perfect game — which we didn't manage at Anfield.

"But the mentality we need for this competition has improved," the coach added.

It was the first time Roma reached the semifinals since getting beat by Liverpool in the 1984 final, which was held in its stadium. And it came in the season after long-time Roma captain Francesco Totti retired.

"I congratulate my teammates. I am so proud of them all. To be captain of this group of great players is an incredible privilege," said new Roma captain Daniele De Rossi. "But now to make this run even more memorable we have to make sure we qualify for the competition again next year."

With three matches remaining in Serie A, Roma sits third, level on points with fourth-place Lazio and four ahead of fifth-place Inter Milan. The top four finishers qualify for the Champions League.

"This has got to be something we continue, year on year," defender Federico Fazio said. "We need to learn from our mistakes. We've got to think positively. We need to lift our heads and carry on."

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