The Roma U-19 women are celebrating their second consecutive league title, defeating Juventus for the second time in the last eight months. The match saw the Eternal City side up against it for the larger part of the game, but a winning goal at the very death of stoppage time for tireless Roma striker Giada Tarantino keeps the Scudetto badge in Rome for another season.
The match began with Roma fielding heavy-hitters Alice Corelli and midfielder Emma Severini into the Roma first 11 from the senior squad, meaning neither player will be seen in the Coppa Italia final between Roma and AC Milan tomorrow. But the first decent scoring chance of the first half landed at Roma striker Tarantino’s feet, as she pounced on some poor control from Juve’s defense to win the ball inside their penalty area but just drag her snapshot wide.
That marked a first-half that was cagey and shy of any real clearcut goal chances, and Roma coach Fabio Mellilo looking like he expected more from the sidelines.
The second half broke away from the cat-and-mouse chemistry of the first half, into more of the dominion of goal threat from challengers Juventus. The side from Turin looked far more confident in the second half, pushing Roma back into their own defensive third and often carrying the ball into Roma’s area, but Juventus were found wanting for a finish.
At the other end, a loose ball fell to Roma’s captain Eleonora Pacioni inside the Juve box, and Pacioni’s knee collided with Juventus keeper in what could have easily been a Roma penalty, but the referee decided - much like the first-half with Juventus’ own stonewall penalty claim - to let the match play on.
There was another flash moment as Roma’s Ghioc rushed out of her area to launch herself into a diving header, in an attempt to dispossess Juve striker Chiara Beccari. Instead Ghioc - who was superb for most of the match - only managed to wipe both herself and Beccari out, with the referee generously only booking Ghioc for the foul and awarding Juventus a free-kick.
Juve’s set-piece came to nothing, but the consequence was five minutes of stoppage time added onto the end of the game. Roma won an innocuous corner right at the end of stoppage time, and completely changed the story of the game at that moment.
Juve keeper Serafino spilled yet another loose ball in her attempt to grab Roma’s corner out of the air, and this time Roma punished Juventus by putting the second-ball right into the back of the net for 1-0 thanks to Giada Tarantino. It was virtually the last act of the game, in what was certainly a deserved win for Tarantino herself, who never stopped chasing down balls and harassing the Juventus backline in the middle of this summer heat.
The result left virtually everyone in tears, including Juventus coach Silvia Piccini for very different reasons than the tears of joy from the Roma team. Juventus remain trophyless in the U-19 category of women’s football for four years running. Meanwhile, Roma has two Scudetti in the space of eight months to put in their trophy cabinet.