This evening’s derby had to be the most meaningless since 2005, back when Lazio finished in 13th and Roma finished 8th place and just one league point above their neighbors. But that didn’t stop the Giallorossi from putting in a very spirited performance, though it took a while for Roma to look like they had the edge in this victory.
Roger Ibañez raised the tension of the match at the wrong end of the pitch, after he put himself under pressure by misscontrolling an easy ball and then simulating contact to try and get out of trouble. The referee didn’t buy it, and the action led to a wide-open Lazio shot on Roma’s goal that Daniel Fuzato charged down and parried away.
If not for some quick thinking from the Brazilian Roma keeper, and some immense defensive contributions from Rick Karsdorp, we may have been singing a very different tune going into half-time.
Instead, the first half was capped by Roma dinking a ball out wide to El Shaarawy, who ran at Lazio before threading a pass through to Dzeko inside the box. The Bosnian bomber then left Acerbi for dead before cutting the ball back into the middle for a completely free Mkhitaryan to tap it into the net and give Roma the 1-0 lead going into the half-time break.
Roma could have doubled their lead earlier in the second 45, but El Shaarawy inexplicably kept his head down and chose to cut back onto his right foot, when a first-time left-foot pass into the box would have found Dzeko free to score. At the other end, another great Fuzato save off an Immobile shot kept Roma’s lead intact.
And then came the icing on the win, as Roma substitute Pedro shrugged off Milinkovic-Savic—who is easily twice Pedro’s size (if not more)—in the middle of the pitch before driving the ball to the edge of Lazio’s area and whipping a left-foot shot past Jose Reina into the far corner for 2-0. There was time for Edin Dzeko to beat Acerbi once again—in a game where Dzeko tried FIVE dribbles in total (where was that all season?)—and get Lazio’s defender sent off in a move remarkably reminiscent of Dzeko’s performance at the Olimpico against Fonseca’s Shakhtar back in 2017.
Be that as it may, Roma sealed a 2-0 derby win for Paulo Fonseca—a result which has no real bearing in the Serie A standings, other than moving Roma four points ahead of Sassuolo (though the Neroverdi have a game in hand) for that Europa Conference League qualification slot. Roma now travels to Spezia for the final matchday next Sunday.