I don't know about you all, but I'm still catching my breath from running around my apartment after that wonderful El Shaarawy winner, what an ending! What looked like an inevitable draw after giving up the lead in the second half, Roma managed to find a winner in the dying moments of the game to send the Stadio Olimpico into euphoria and give Mourinho a win in his 1000th game as a manager.
The game certainly started out with a bang, as not even 30 seconds into the game, Tammy Abraham had an audacious chip attempt that set the tone for the opening quarter of the game. Roma’s pressing and level of intensity was exactly what you wanted to see coming out of the international break, with Tammy Abraham, in particular, standing out in regards to his work rate.
Sassuolo were seemingly content in ceding possession to Roma, looking to hit them on the counter utilizing their pace with balls over the top, or looking for the through-ball into Berardi, who had several chances to give the visitors the lead, including a 26th-minute goal ruled out for being offside. It was at this point where Sassuolo really began to grow into the game, taking advantage of some poor passing by Roma, who themselves had taken their foot off the gas. Luckily, a combination of an effective offsides trap, and some excellent saves by Rui Patricio, allowed Roma to stave off Sassuolo.
The early period of dominance aside, Roma themselves had yet to have any high-quality chances of their own for the opening half-hour, which was becoming increasingly worrying juxtaposed against the chances that were coming Sassuolo’s way. Aside from a 34th minute Abraham attempt that went narrowly wide following an excellent cross from Karsdorp, the chances were few and far between for the Giallorossi.
That was until a 37th minute foul on Abraham led to this...
Bryan Cristante: 37th minute (Roma 1, Sassuolo 0)
One off of the training ground!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 12, 2021
Bryan Cristiane finishes off a clever set piece pic.twitter.com/JTCadLjZm9
What a goal! Pellegrini played an absolutely perfect ball right in behind Sassuolo’s high line, with Cristante timing his run perfectly to get on the end of it and emphatically put it away.
A well-deserved goal for Roma, as they were beginning to retake control of the game following that period of Sassuolo pressure. Following the goal, tensions on the field began to flare between the players, with Ibañez getting a yellow card for a late challenge.
Sassuolo came out for the second half with an intensity similar to that of Roma’s at the start of the first half, immediately pushing for the equalizer and looking particularly threatening. Rui Patricio was the man of the opening 15 minutes of the second half, with some excellent saves preserving Roma’s lead. Sassuolo continued to play balls over the top to Boga and looked to thread the needle into Berardi, with the halftime addition of Scamacca giving them an additional element in attack.
Eventually, Sassuolo's pressure paid dividends, with some poor defending by Viña leading to a Berardi cutback pass that found its way to Filip Đuričić, who hit the ball awkwardly past Patricio to give Sassuolo the equalizer.
Filip Đuričić: 57th minute (Roma 1, Sassuolo 1)
The skill from Domenico Berardi and Filip Duricic equalizes for Sassuolo pic.twitter.com/YajhrOHeUg— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 12, 2021
Really not anything Patricio could’ve done on this one, with the ball bouncing awkwardly following the shot. You would like to have seen Viña do much better on this one, some very poor defending to give Berardi the opening to slot in the pass.
The equalizer seemingly gave Roma the shot in the arm that they needed to wake up from their passive play up until that point, nearly responding immediately following a delightful bit of play from Pellegrini, weaving through several Sassuolo defenders to hit a shot that was followed up by Abraham who then hit the post himself.
The game seemed destined for a draw from here, with Roma frustratingly unable to find a second goal and Sassuolo seemingly content with the point. The last quarter of the game was defined by growing Sassuolo pressure, forcing Patricio once again into some fine saves, and an inability from Roma to take control of the game. Mourinho threw on El Shaarawy, Shomurodov, and Perez in an effort to find the winner, leading to some additional chances, but nothing to dispel the notion that this game was headed for anything but a draw.
That is until Il Faraone decided it was time to send the crowd at the Olimpico into a state of euphoria...
Stephan El Shaarawy: 92nd minute (Roma 2, Sassuolo 1)
STEPHAN EL SHAARAWY!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 12, 2021
Roma get the last minute winner on Jose Mourinho’s 1000 match in charge pic.twitter.com/3QEwEwaUno
Credit to this team for digging deep and finding the winner after a particularly frustrating night, it’s clear to see that Mourinho has made significant progress in changing the mentality of the team, it’s not hard to imagine the Roma of last year settling for the point, or conceding a last-minute winner to Sassuolo.
Rui Patricio and Lorenzo Pellegrini stood out in particular on the night, but El Shaarawy rightfully deserves the spotlight following his winner. A motivated and in-form El Shaarawy could be a real game-changer for the squad, and it was lovely to see just how much the goal meant to him, displaying a level of emotion in celebrating I haven’t really seen from him before.
Cheers to Mourinho for winning his 1000th game as a manager and onto Hellas Verona!
Roma jumps into Conference League group play against CSKA Sofia on Thursday in Rome.
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Stephan El Shaarawy