Alberto De Rossi’s troops were looking at their Scudetto play-off hopes hanging by a thread this morning, even before welcoming 3rd-placed Inter Milan to the Stadio Tre Fontane. Roma have the most prolific attack in the league and yet the third-worst defence too, which sums up everything you need to know about what a rollercoaster season it’s been for the Primavera squad.
Perhaps the best alibi we can offer De Rossi’s boys is that he’s been fielding a surprising amount of 2002-born players, meaning most of Roma’s talent comes at an age disadvantage compared to their U-19 peers. All the better then, that Roma would start this match with luxury over-age player Amadou Diawara acting as their shield in front of the defence.
Up front, both natural strikers Felipe Estrella and Lamine Tall were out of action for Roma, meaning that ADR had to improvise his lineup by fielding Ruben Providence as an auxiliary striker. Right-winger and top-scorer Alessio Riccardi started alongside Providence, as Roma’s number 10 remains his side’s biggest threat on the front-line.
Alessio Riccardi Goal: Roma Primavera 1, Inter Primavera 0
It took only six minutes for Roma to get off to the best of starts. Diawara helped teammate Edoardo Bove to rob Inter on the halfway line, before Bove passed the ball out wide. Left winger Ludovico d’Orazio sent a ball into Inter’s box from the byline moments later, and Alessio Riccardi wasted no time getting on the end of that pass, just beating Inter’s defenders as Riccardi sent a looping ball into the far corner. 1-0 Roma.
Near the half hour mark, it was classic Diawara when he found himself getting closed down by two Inter players while on the ball. Diawara spun on a dime and nutmegged his way out of pressure in the same fluid movement. Sportitalia’s commentators had seen enough of to sum up the first half hour of play: “with all due respect to the boys, it’s easy to see Diawara is a different class of player today.”
In the 35th minute, Diawara was literally slid into on the very same left knee he’s been nursing all season. The Guinean rode the challenge on his way to the ground, and immediately got back up without showing any signs of discomfort.
Inter spent most of the half looking to control possession, but the Nerazzurini were simply too slow on the ball, letting Roma flatter to deceive when defending the middle of the pitch at the very least. But that was Roma’s only strength on this day; elsewhere Alberto De Rossi’s side looked short of confidence when trying to keep the ball, and short of ideas in trying to find their way out of Inter’s pressure all over the pitch.
Despite several Inter chances, the half-time whistle came with Roma’s early scoreline advantage intact. SportItalia were convinced Roma were leading deservedly but, truthfully, the 1-0 looked unconvincing.
The second half kicked off with Inter immediately looking dangerous once again, getting a long ball out wide to the left flank before sending in a cross that Inter’s attackers just failed to convert into a tap in across Cardinali’s goal, instead sending the ball wide.
On a loose ball, Diawara got a knee in the back for his troubles, sending the Guinean to ground. But once again Diawara got straight back up, showing no signs of pain. Then Inter went from looking dangerous to ridiculous as Roma won another free kick in the Nerazzurini half, and sent the ball up the right-flank for Riccardi to cross into the box.
William Bianda Goal: Roma Primavera 2, Inter Primavera 0
The cross looked like Inter’s keeper Stankovic had smothered it, but the Stankovic was fouled by his own defender and let the ball slip out from under his legs; the ball was begging to be hit into the net from just 3 yards out, an invitation to which the on-rushing William Bianda obliged. Roma’s defender blasted the ball into Inter’s net to put Alberto De Rossi’s lads 2-0, mostly against the run of play.
Samuele Mulattieri Goal: Roma Primavera 2, Inter Primavera 1
However, Roma switched off from 2-0 up and let Inter get two immediate chances on their goal. The second chance was not one Inter were going to pass up, as Bianda let a through-ball slide past his outstretched foot, and Roma’s entire back-line was passive to the danger (including Cardinali) as Inter’s forward Mulattieri slid the ball across Cardinali into the far corner of Roma’s goal.
It was an immediate hit back from Inter to 2-1 just short of the hour mark. And Inter wouldn’t wait long to equalize, as Roma’s defence went through a comedy of errors to let the Nerazzurini flood their final third.
Stefano Parodi (OG): Roma Primavera 2, Inter Primavera 2
The ball was hit across Roma’s goal and rebounded onto Parodi, who ended up knocking the ball past his own keeper for an own-goal. 2-2 meant Alberto De Rossi would react on the hour, by substituting Amadou Diawara for Tripi and looking for a reset to Roma’s mentality.
Edoardo Bove Goal: Roma Primavera 3, Inter Primavera 2
Perhaps Inter were guilty of shutting down after getting back on level terms here, but Roma were able to flood Inter’s box and had all the time in the world to pass the ball between d’Orazio, Simonetti and finally Bove all inside the 18 yard area. Bove wouldn’t hesitate to bury the ball past Inter’s Stankovic to give Roma back the lead.
3-2 on the day, and who knows what this game had in store next?
The frenetic nature of this match meant Cardinali came up with a huge reaction save at the other end but, on 65 minutes, Roma feared the worst for Bove as the midfielder went down clutching his knee from a fairly innocuous foul near the touchline.
The empty stadium meant that Bove’s own cries of pain were all the more audible over the pitch-side mics. A few moments of magic spray on Bove’s knee let the midfielder try and carry on playing for a couple more minutes, but Roma were forced to substitute their best player on the day for oncoming substitute Gennaro Nigro to see out the game. Forward Ruben Providence also came off for substitute Zalewski, and Roma had to find a way to calm the match down for the remaining 20 minutes.
A flood of substitutions followed from both sides, and Inter did create a couple of chances in the meantime but none of their efforts were on target. However, Roma weren’t interested in anything other than parking the bus and clearing the ball to the halfway line, which was just begging for an Inter comeback.
Lucien Agoume Goal: Roma Primavera 3, Inter Primavera 3
Sure enough, in the 86th minute, Inter sent a out-swinging cross all the way to the left side of Roma’s box that their left winger had the athleticism to head back all the way to the edge of the penalty area. That was all Inter midfielder Agoume needed to hit a first-time, skidding shot that left Cardinali helpless to prevent yet another Inter equalizer. 3-3 with five minutes plus extra time and Inter holding all the momentum in the dying moments of this game.
Only a couple of minutes later, Inter would send in another cross and a header would come crashing off of Cardinali’s bar. Only then did Roma finally do what they should have done earlier, and move up the pitch to try and get some distance between the Nerazzurini and Matteo Cardinali’s goal.
Roma finally fought for some measure of possession to play out time, rescuing a 3-3 draw on the day that does little to improve their chances of securing a Scudetto play-off spot come May.
Roma Man of the Match: Edoardo Bove
Even before his goal, Roma’s box-to-box midfielder was tireless in his efforts to win the ball back throughout the match. He was the most influential in keeping Inter’s onslaught at bay, and seemed buoyed by the presence of Amadou Diawara behind him for support. Then came his goal, a deserved icing on the cake for Bove’s own efforts up until then. Unfortunately, Bove was subbed off with an injury that leaves us hoping it’s not too serious.
Amadou Diawara Watch
As we mentioned throughout the match notes, Diawara took a couple of hard bumps that sent him to ground. On both occassions, he immediately got back up and showed no signs of discomfort. He had to full 360 degrees of mobility to go along with his omni-vision on and off the ball, and showed the usual sublime touches in possession. A decent 60-minute run-out for Roma’s playmaker on his spring comeback from injury.