In yesterday's match preview, we focused on two things ahead of Roma's Coppa Italia Quarterfinal clash with the San Marino Academy: the unique nature of a foreign-based team playing in the Coppa Italia and the importance/benefits of Roma winning this tournament in only their second year of existence. While playing a club based in an independent micro-state was an interesting bit of trivia, I'm afraid we may have buried the lede; they're only four points off the top of the Serie B table.
As Betty Bavagnoli preached before the match, Roma would be wise to not overlook their opponents. And through the earliest stages of this match—which was set against a beautiful back drop of rolling green hills and Spanish-tiled roofs—it looked like San Marino might give Roma a game this afternoon.
Making matters worse for Roma was the pitch, with last week's mud bog in Empoli swapped out for the slick surfaces of San Marino's artificial turf. While it was markedly better than last week's playing surface, it made it somewhat difficult for the likes of Manuela Giugliano and Andressa to play accurate balls into the final third, as their final passes picked up an extra bit of steam the second they crossed into the area. Roma's attack is predicated on quick passes but the timing was noticeably impacted by the playing surface early in this match.
Considering the fast track, it wasn’t really surprising that Roma's first strikes came from individual efforts and set pieces rather than a series of slick passes, which, while eye catching, weren’t really on the cards this afternoon.
Roma's young right back, Angelica Soffia, who has split the position with Kaja Erzen for much of the season, got the goal party started around the quarter-hour mark. With the 19-year-old working on the edge of the 18-yard box, she played in a looping cross seemingly destined for Lindsey Thomas, who was waiting patiently at the far post. However, rather than meeting the Frenchwoman's head, the ball dipped into the top corner giving Roma their first (but not final) goal of the match. For Soffia, it was her first Roma goal and her first goal since the 2017-2018 season with Verona.
The Giallorosse would double their lead thanks to another defender shortly thereafter. With Andressa serving up an out-swinging cross from the right corner flag, Allyson Swaby rose up to meet the ball at the near post and deftly flicked it towards the opposite post, doubling Roma's lead with a text-book header.
Roma would take it easy on their Sammarinese opponents for the remainder of the first half, but they would put the match well and truly beyond all doubt in the second half. Goals from Andressa (PK), Elisa Bartoli and Agnese Bonfantini would push the Giallorosse's advantage to 5-0 before the match ever reached the 70th minute, while Amalie Thestrup would push the tally to 6-0 in the 89th minute.
San Marino would grab a late goal in stoppage time, ending the day with a 6-1 score line.
Credit to San Marino for giving Roma fits early in the match but the Giallorosse simply had too much talent for the home club to contend with. Given the gulf in class, we can't draw too many conclusions from this match, but it was certainly encouraging to see the defense jump starting the attack throughout this match; Bartoli and Soffia had their way with their opposing numbers in the San Marino final third.
Roma will welcome San Marino to the Tre Fontane for the return leg on the 25th. With a five-goal advantage, the Giallorosse seem a safe bet to make the semi-finals for the second straight season where they'll face the winner of the Milan v. Fiorentina fixture—the Viola took the first leg in a tight 2-1 in Milan.