Through the first 15 to 20 minutes of the match it was almost as if Doc Brown scooped us up in his Delorean and transported us back to 2015. Instead of quick, incisive attacks through the middle, Roma was dancing on the wings, firing in speculative crosses towards god knows who, hoping and praying someone would get on the end of one. And when that wasn’t “working”, long balls were the order of the day; just fire it over the top and hope someone makes a mistake; it was vintage Rudi Garcia Roma—living on a wing and a prayer.
However, in another example of how dramatically things have changed since then, Roma found a way to break the deadlock and end the torpidity.
Federico Fazio: 25th Minute
El gol de Fazio con el que Roma se pone en ventaja ante Bologna. 0-1 pic.twitter.com/vk5BAgOBIC— AS Roma (@RomaSquare) April 9, 2017
A rather strange series of events led to Federico Fazio’s second league goal of the season. After Stephan El Shaarawy sent in an outswinging cross seemingly destined for Daniele De Rossi’s head, DDR whiffed, leaving the ball in peril, perfectly exposed to the Bologna defense. However, instead of clearing the ball away, Bologna’s defense stumbled, failing to clear the ball and giving Fazio just enough time to lash onto it, giving Roma a rather undeserved lead, but a lead nonetheless.
The first 25 to 30 minutes of this match really and truly belonged to Bologna, they were playing more direct and, let’s face it, more emphatically, while Roma was content to drift through the motions, but we all know what they say about one goal leads, right?
As they have seemingly done every week, Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah teamed up to save the day, doubling Roma’s lead moments before the halftime whistle and really putting the match beyond all doubt*
Mohamed Salah: 41st Minute
El gol de Salah para el 2-0 de la Roma ante Bologna. pic.twitter.com/6wWPx0CBNH— AS ROMA (@NoticiASRoma) April 9, 2017
This has to be one of the prettiest and most succinct goals we’ve seen all season long. A series of beautiful one-touch moves—first from Kevin Strootman then Edin Dzeko—unleashed Salah on Mirante’s goal. After Strootman deftly guided the ball to Dzeko, Ol’ Deadeye played a nice little chip into Salah, lofting it over the defense and drawing Mirante off his line, giving Salah just enough time and space to play a cheeky lob over Mirante’s outstretched hands. No clue why Mirante came so far off his line, but we’ll take it.
Roma walked into the dressing room with a rather undeserved lead, but as we’ve been saying all season long, top teams find a way to win when all logic and common sense dictates they shouldn’t.
And, hey logic was shown a further middle finger in the opening moments of the second half. Moments after the second half whistle blew, Blerim Dzemali was served up a header on a platter, only to fire it directly at Wojciech Szczesny, and I mean directly at Woj—had he placed it a few inches in either direction, we’re looking at a 2-1 match. So, at the very least, let’s credit Woj with some wonderful positioning, but man, nine times out of ten that’s a gimme; Dzemali should have buried that one.
Not to be out done, Federico Di Francesco also tested the immutable laws of physics, in particular the axiom that the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection, as he pinged one off the far post and watched it skirt along the goal line, only to creep harmlessly off the line and back into play, where it was miraculously scooped up by Woj. But don’t lose sight of the narrative here—Roma continued to play too lax, constantly tempting fate by leaving the door open for Bologna. In any other year, Bologna levels this match, leaving Roma fans the world over frustrated and disappointed.
Of course, in grand Roma fashion, they flipped the switch on their bipolar medicine and began to throttle their northern neighbors, finally stamping out the threat in the 75th minute after a sublime ball from Salah opened up the pitch, leading to Edin Dzeko’s 24th goal of the year.
Edin Dzeko: 75th Minute
Dzeko gets his 24th Serie A goal!! #BolognaRoma pic.twitter.com/vr9y4pjIwh— Serie A English (@SerieA_English) April 9, 2017
In a decidedly un-Salah move, Mo completely picked apart the defense from well beyond midfield, splitting two defenders and finding Diego Perotti in stride from some 40 to 50 yards away, leaving him acres of space to run onto. From there, Perotti baited the keeper before unselfishly playing the ball over to Dzeko, who tapped it home for his 24th goal, keeping him level with Andrea Belotti in the capocannoniere race.
Just an absolute class goal, one that really typified the difference between Roma’s first and second half performances. The lesson, as always, is don’t try and figure this team out, you’ll only be left wanting.
The final 15 minutes played on without issue, Francesco Totti was given his token sub and Bologna fired a couple shots wide, while Roma led a few fruitless forays ahead, but the damage was already done—Roma effectively overcame their moribund start and buried Bologna, showing the gulf in class that exists between these two squads.
Roma jumps back into action next Saturday against Franck Kessie (ever heard of him?) and Atalanta at the Olimpico. Until then!
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