Being the last match of the day is both a blessing and a curse. While on the one hand, you’re fully aware of what your adversaries have achieved earlier in the day, the pressure for you to execute and succeed is ramped up significantly, particularly when you’re in the thick of a title hunt like Roma. With the news that Genoa toppled the Old Lady 3-1 earlier in the day, Roma suddenly had a chance to cut the Scudetto gap to a manageable four points. Further, with all of Milan, Lazio and Atalanta temporarily leapfrogging them, pressure doesn’t even begin to describe the force weighing on Luciano Spalletti’s bald head this evening.
A point apparently not lost on Spalletti...
Well, whatever pre-match prayer Spalletti was silently uttering there paid off dividends almost immediately when, you guessed it, Edin Dzeko delivered once more.
Edin Dzeko: 7th Minute
Pretty simple stuff right here, Dzeko shielded his man off the ball, resisted the challenge, maintained his footing and tapped it home past the bewildered keeper. However, run that back and you notice two subtle keys to this goal. First, look at how Federico Fazio sort of overlaps Dzeko and heads towards the short post, momentarily shielding Dzeko’s move. Second, between the flight of the ball and Dzeko’s feigning towards the far past, the keeper was drawn further to his right (left on your screen), giving Dzeko ample space to slot it home on the near post; brilliantly executed set piece.
Dzeko wouldn’t wait long for goal number two, his 12th league goal in only 14 appearances
Edin Dzeko: 10th Minute
Again, just a simple yet wonderfully executed goal. Kudos to Dzeko for staying onside while Diego Perotti continues to assert himself as the playmaker on this squad. Dzeko and Perotti have definitely been carrying this team over the past few matches. Funny to think that they both almost lost their places in the squad at varying points over the past year; we’re not a patient bunch us Roma fans, eh?
The remainder of the first half would play on without issue, though Roma went through their trademark complacent stage, even getting booked, but the first half closed with Roma up two nil to the good, so we can’t really complain about the intermittent bouts of frustration.
Well, Roma managed to make it 15 minutes before allowing their EU mandated second half goal, as Ledian Memushaj halved Roma’s lead in the 60th minute, beating Wojciech Szczesny low and away. Unlike most Roma goals, there wasn’t one blatant screw up, Memushaj just buried the shot.
After pressing to reassert their two goal lead, Roma would capitalize thanks to Diego Perotti, who drew a penalty in the area in the 71st minute. Despite Pescara’s protestations otherwise, it was a clear penalty, Perotti was slashed right on the shin by the defender before falling to the ground. Perotti, master of the PK, quickly restored Roma’s two goal lead.
Umm yeah, lead lasted all of three minutes as Gianluca Caprari (obviously) made it 3-2 as he blasted home a rebounded outswinging cross.
Rather than posting a clip of the goal, we’ll leave this still image here to haunt you. Granted it was off a rebound, but Caprari was virtually unmarked at the top of the area; if this were an NHL game you’d scream “cover the point! cover the point!” but yeah, Roma was done in by a former player—you knew it was going to happen at some point during this match.
The final twenty minutes of the match included everything you’ve come to expect from this team—pleading for calls while the other team actually played, needless fouls, senseless substitutions and even a disallowed goal—but Roma managed to hang on to this slim and somewhat undeserved win.
Roma’s penchant for relaxing at the worst moments, or in this case the entire second half, was on full display this evening. And while this victory technically put Roma back into second place, it didn’t exactly inspire confidence ahead of the toughest stretch of the season—the derby against Lazio, home against Milan and away against Juve, with a trip to Romania thrown in for good measure to boot.
It’s an absolutely brutal stretch of matches that may ultimately settle the Scudetto as Juventus, Roma, Milan and Lazio are separated by all of five points. First up on that docket is Lazio and the Derby della Capitale on December 4th, so let’s hope these special kits they plan on wearing bring some good luck.