I tuned in late to today’s match, getting caught up in ILS localization and glidescope frequencies; which would prove more interesting than the passage of play leading to Cagliari’s opening goal this evening. It took less than four minutes for Roma to make an error in possession, with Cagliari’s Nandez skipping past Amadou Diawara once the Uruguayan had won the ball, and sending in a low ball across the face of Pau Lopez’s goal that Charalampos Lykogiannis buried into the back of the net from the far side.
We’ve seen Roma concede goals in that manner, upwards of maybe two dozen times this season, without hyperbole. But Carles Perez used the rest of the half to show he does have life in him, first sending a powerful shot just wide of the mark, then coming up with the good ten minutes after his first effort to clinch a 27th-minute equalizer for Roma, after Lorenzo Pellegrini put Perez through on goal. Both sides went into the half level on the scoreline, but it was only natural that relegation-battlers Cagliari looked like they wanted more from this game.
It took 12 minutes of the second half before watching yet another Roma turnover punished with ruthless precision by Cagliari’s Marin, who whipped in a spinning shot from outside the area that fizzed past Pau Lopez’s outstretched hand and firmly into the net. Cagliari were up 2-1 but wouldn’t stop there. The 64th minute saw Joao Pedro rise for a completely uncontested header inside the Roma box, as Cagliari’s skipper and player-of-the-season headed in the hosts’ corner for what turned out to be the Sardinians’ winning goal. That’s because Roma would reply with a corner of their own, five minutes later, as Federico Fazio headed in at the near post to bring Roma to within a goal with just over 25 minutes of normal time left. It wouldn’t matter, however.
Roma lost this game fair and square while managing to get an hour’s worth of play into Chris Smalling and spreading the game time between other first-team names such as Leonardo Spinazzola, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jordan Veretout, and Rick Karsdorp. But Karsdorp exemplified Roma’s general attitude to this match: The number of times Rick simply passed the ball up the pitch and let Carles Perez run into situations where the Spaniard was easily outnumbered by three Cagliari defenders, time and again, was indicative of Roma’s general lazy attitude towards the Serie A run-in and unwillingness to move or create opportunities for teammates.
If you’ve been here before then you know this is just a typical lack of professionalism shown by Roma that knows they don’t have to perform for a coach, who himself knows the club is actively looking for his successor on the Roma bench. That’s exactly the recipe for a loss to Manchester United, folks (not that United needs any help). Going into second gear in matches like this doesn’t even make sense for a buildup to a European semi-final.
All Roma has succeeded in doing is putting immense pressure on themselves to perform in a knockout tie against far stronger opposition. Come to think of it... far stranger things have happened than Roma using that pressure to pull out an unexpected performance on the European scene...
...But don’t go betting your house on it.