Roma were a Bryan Cristante own goal away from a perfect clean sweep of Braga in the Europa League Round of 32. Despite that error, the Giallorossi steamrolled the Archbishops by a resounding 5-1 aggregate scoreline, erasing any worries we may have had about facing an unfamiliar opponent while also dealing with an injury crisis in defense.
If yesterday's match lacked any excitement for you, it's probably because Roma had this two-legged tie wrapped up after scoring two away goals in Braga last week. Despite the lack of consequence in yesterday's match, Roma put in yet another impressive performance, winning the match on the scoreboard and the stat sheet; a welcomed turn of events after dropping points in two of their past three league matches.
Given how utterly dominant Roma were over the two-leg tie, we'll forgive Cristante for his error and focus on the positives.
After spending most of the 2020-2021 season on the periphery, the 23-year-old Pérez seems to be slowly working his way back into Paulo Fonseca's good graces. While he’s only made two starts in 2021, yesterday Pérez reminded Roma fans of just how explosive he can be. In 31 minutes, Pérez turned in a man-of-the-match performance, scoring on his only shot at goal, chipping in one key pass, a secondary assist on Borja Mayoral's goal, four dribbles, and four fouls drawn, both match highs.
Although he was forced out with a groin injury early in the second half, Dzeko turned back the clock with 66 stellar minutes yesterday. In addition to opening the action with a 23rd-minute goal, Dzeko put two shots on goal, contributed one key pass, one dribble, one accurate cross (out of two), one accurate long-ball (out of two), and won five aerials.
Hopefully, his groin injury won't prove too serious because the chemistry between Dzeko and Stephan El Shaarawy was magical yesterday—it was like they hadn't skipped a beat despite not sharing the pitch in almost two years.
Man, is this guy having an up-and-down season, or what? After a pretty rough start to 2021, Peres was instrumental for Roma yesterday. Going the full 90, Peres completed 84% of his passes, pulled off two dribbles, was a perfect two-for-two on long-balls, and chipped in one successful tackle, three clearances, and five interceptions.
There wasn't much he could do to stop Cristante's own goal from finding the back of the net, but Lopez was otherwise solid against Braga, making three saves in the box and hitting on 8-16 long-ball attempts.
Stuck In Between
These guys did a few good things but couldn't hold a candle to the saints above.
Lorenzo Pellegrini: A beautiful assist on Pérez's goal negated his laughably bad penalty attempt several minutes earlier.
Borja Mayoral: He only played about 25 minutes but he managed one goal, one key pass, and one successful long-ball.
Jordan Veretout: Another busy evening for the Frenchman, as he swept up Roma's midfield as dutifully as ever, racking up three tackles, one interception, and four clearances.
Leonardo Spinazzola: One key pass, one assist, and three clearances. Not too shabby despite playing little more than 30 minutes.
That's it for this edition of Sinners & Saints. Check back for the next rendition after Roma faces AC Milan on Sunday.