Several years ago we ran a tagline underneath our masthead that read “cautiously optimistic since 2012.” While this was somewhat tongue in cheek, it did (and still does) reign true; sure, Roma had every reason to believe they’d walk all over Viktoria Plzen tonite, but there is always that niggling little doubt, the yeah but or the what if that so constantly plagues us. Point being, with Roma one simply never knows.
And, as it turned out, Roma erased all doubt after 180 seconds when Edin Dzeko found the back of the net before anyone even broke a sweat or even so much as dented a blade of grass. Dzeko would strike once more in the 40th minute, settling and converting a cross from Cengiz Ünder in traffic, blasting the ball past the near post to effectively put the match to bed.
With a two-nil lead at home in the bag, Eusebio Di Francesco opted to keep his foot on the gas in the second half, holding off on any substitutions until well past the hour mark. Call it intuition or just the joy of humiliating an inferior opponent, but EDF’s restraint paid dividends as two of his youngest starters teamed up to tilt the match further in Roma’s favor.
In what was surely one of the finest sequences we’ve seen all season long, Aleksandar Kolarov played a lofted inswinger from the left wing into Lorenzo Pellegrini who quickly thread it through to Ünder. From there, Cengiz did a lovely job opening up his left foot to guide the ball home; just a great run of play from front to back, finished off expertly by Ünder.
And that’s really the long and short of it; the final twenty minutes of the match were really just shooting practice for Roma, who could have easily pushed this to a 7-0 affair. Edin Dzeko finally got his hat trick nearly at the death, scoring in the final minute of stoppage time, but let’s give a little love to Justin Kluivert.
Nothing too special about the goal, but it was Kluivert’s first in a Roma shirt, which, in the process, made him Roma’s youngest ever Champions League goalscorer. Kluivert, showing a beautiful bit of class, paid tribute to his fallen teammate.
Justin Kluivert has scored his first-ever Champions League goal— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 2, 2018
He celebrated by paying tribute to former Ajax teammate Abdelhak Nouri ❤️ pic.twitter.com/3liFmhA1rK
Lovely gesture from the kid, who, though he’s had his ups and downs thus far, looks like an instant game changer whenever he’s on the ball. He’ll be a joy to watch, no doubt about it.
Pummeling Plzen puts a nice, tidy bow on a rousing week for Roma and Eusebio Di Francesco, who now sit level with Real Madrid on three points behind group leaders CSKA Moscow, who narrowly held off the kings of Europe 1-0 this afternoon...which, wow.
EDF and friends will look to keep the train rolling this weekend when they visit Empoli on Saturday.