“Dread it, run from it, destiny arrives all the same.” After a season filled with frustration for one of Italy’s brightest young talents, Nicolo Zaniolo finally went Thanos-mode, scoring a hat-trick in an absolute demolition of Bodø/Glimt, silencing his critics and doing his part in vanquishing a demon that has haunted Roma since October, consequently propelling the Giallorossi into the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League.
It didn’t take long for Roma to get going in this one, as the Giallorossi won a corner just five minutes into the match. The resulting kick saw Pellegrini play it short to Zaniolo, who fired a cross into the box and narrowly missing an incoming Cristante, the ball instead spilling out into the box where Tammy Abraham pounced quickest, slotting the ball home and giving Roma an early and much-needed goal to level the tie on aggregate. In a wonderful moment, even the epitome of cool himself, Francesco Totti, couldn’t help but break character and leap into the air at Tammy’s goal, before quickly regaining composure and sliding back into that cool persona we all know and love.
It didn’t take long for Roma to add their second of the night, as twenty minutes later the Giallorossi scored what was arguably the goal of the evening, a lovely display of one-touch counter-attacking football that started with Chris Smalling playing the initial pass, and just four passes later, Pellegrini found Zaniolo running in behind, who coolly slot the ball home to give Roma the lead on aggregate.
From then on, the rout was on, as Roma added their third just minutes later. A rare Bodø corner attempt was headed outside the box and into the path of Nicola Zalewski making a lung-busting run, crossing midfield before finding Zaniolo, again making a run in behind, resulting in a superb chip over the keeper and into the back of the net for his second on the night. “Watch out, I'm back.” was the message, such was the confidence on display from Zaniolo.
For all intents and purposes, the tie was over from here, with Roma firmly in the lead on aggregate and high on confidence, a nightmare combination for any side trying to make a comeback. Selfishly, at this point, I’m sure we all wanted to keep seeing the goals flow, avenging that crushing defeat in October. To their credit, Roma continued to push for more goals, seemingly in sync with Romanisti everywhere in wanting to avenge that loss to their Norwegian rivals.
And in the 49th minute, a fourth goal came, courtesy of the other goal of the evening contender. A Bryan Cristante ball over the top of the defense found itself landing just in front of Zaniolo, who nodded the ball down, shrugged off his defender, and hit the ball on the volley into the back of the net, the ball firmly lodging in place for a moment, such was the ferocity of the strike.
From then on it was smooth sailing for the Giallorossi, who saw the match out with little fanfare, keeping a clean sheet in the process as well. With matches against Napoli and Inter in Serie A coming up, and a Conference League Semifinal date with Leicester City on the horizon, the matches, and the stakes are only going to get bigger from here!
In case you missed any of the action, enjoy the highlights below.