Amadou Diawara is what the game’s been missing. It took all of five first-half minutes to see that much, as Diawara lobbed a perfect second-assist pass to let Spinazzola run onto it and into space down the left flank behind Braga’s defence. An even more impressive assist from Spinazzola followed as the Italian wide-back put in a slide-rule pass into the box for Dzeko to get on the end of.
Kudos to Dzeko for the impressive finish on his return to starting action, too. Just like the game against Udinese last weekend, Roma immediately had themselves an early 1-0 lead and put their opponents' pre-game plans into disarray. From that moment on, the game played out among Braga’s passing and Roma’s mounting injury worries at the back.
Bryan Cristante lasted less than seven minutes this match, pulling up with an injury and forcing Fonseca into bringing on Bruno Peres to the left flank. Spinazzola moved into a back-three unit that got increasingly makeshift as the game went on. That’s because Roger Ibanez also left the field injured in the second half, replaced by Gonzalo Villar while Jordan Veretout took up the emergency RWB role, while none other than Rick Kardorp played centre-back.
It helped that Braga had a man sent off early in the second half, but the Giallorossi didn’t just settle for 1-0 on the night, creating another goal through a series of slick passing moves (with the ever-impressive Henrikh Mkhitaryan tying it all together) for substitute Borja Mayoral to get on the scoresheet for 2-0 on the night.
Probably the most impressive elements of this win were both Gianluca Mancini and Amadou Diawara confirming they are a couple of Rolls-Royces amongst men. With these two on the pitch, Roma were calm, composed, and always in control of the evening. The Lupi now take two away goals with them back to the Olimpico for the second leg against Braga but, in the meantime, will have to figure out who starts in defence against Benevento this weekend.
Until then, enjoy the highlights!