Given the frenetic pace with which they played against Lyon midweek, it would have been perfectly reasonable to assume Roma would relent somewhat. Think again, in an almost carbon copy of the second half of their Europa League match, Roma hit the ground running, nearly grabbing two goals in the first five minutes, with Kevin Strootman nearly unlocking Mohamed Salah on the far post. While the timing was a bit off on that move, Salah nearly broke open the match moments later, capitalizing on Sassuolo’s inability to clear the backline.
But yeah, this is Roma, things are seldom that easy. Rather than Roma grabbing the early lead, it was the team dressed in blue, you know, the greenblacks, who would draw first blood.
Gregoire Defrel: 9th Minute
Roma just got completely undressed on this counter attack, which was finished off rather easily by Domenico Berardi and Defrel. There are just so many guys on this team who would fit seamlessly into Roma, and Berardi and Defrel would be at the front of that line. Defrel’s restrained celebration led many to speculate there’s some sort of handshake deal for the Frenchman between the two clubs, but we shall see on that one.
While it would have been perfectly reasonable to hang your head and go about your Sunday chores, Roma, as they so often do, came storming right back.
Leandro Paredes: 16th Minute
Just a great sequence of tight passing here, as Bruno Peres pulled the ball back off the end line, finding Salah at the edge of the area, who then parlayed it back to Leandro Paredes, who hit it absolutely perfectly, driving it low and away to level the match. Smart, quick thinking from Peres and Salah and a hell of a hit from Paredes, he skipped that off the ground and into the far post from well past 20 yards.
But then things got a bit askew....
What in the Sam hell is going on— Chiesa di Totti (@chiesaditotti) March 19, 2017
In the span of about 70 seconds, Emerson Palmieri blasted the woodwork, nearly breaking open the match (again), only to then watch as Wojciech Szczesny nearly got chipped from miles away, and then Leandro Paredes head nearly split open. It was an utter mess that could have swung the match either way, not to mention damaging Paredes’ pristine face.
Someday I really have to find out if other clubs are like this, or if it’s purely a Roma phenomenon; it’s really fucking with my mind—it’s supposed to be a simple game, right?
Mohamed Salah: 45+
Federico Fazio, El Shaarawy and Salah would team up at the death of the first half to give Roma a 2-1 lead. Fazio let loose a drool-inducing pass, finding SES streaking down the left flank, who forced the keeper into a save (of sorts), leaving the ball prone, practically on the goal line, where Salah was more than willing to pounce, sending Roma into the dressing room with a much needed lead.
It was a chaotic first half, replete with brilliance, blunders and even blood.
The second half was a bit more tame, at least in the early goings, but Luciano Spalletti signaled his intent when he subbed of Peres early in the half for Edin Dzeko; he was going for the jugular. And, as luck would have it, he made the right call.
Edin Dzeko: 68th Minute
After taking the feed from Paredes, Dzeko and Strootman pulled off a wonderful give and go wherein Dzeko, driving in from the left, laid it off to Strootman, who quickly chipped it over the top where Dzeko was already breaking towards the goal. And all that stood between Dzeko and his 21st league goal was a simple settling of the ball and clean and tidy volley past the keeper. This was nearly a picture perfect sequence, kudos to all involved and kudos to Spalletti for making such a large tactical change.
And that was really all she wrote, the remainder of the match played on without incident, Roma threatened a few more times as the second half waned, with Emerson nearly tucking one in from distance, but don’t let the languid ending fool you, Roma got the job done tonight.