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Sinners & Saints: Napoli 1, Roma 1

Some good, some bad, but a whole lot of in between from Mourinho's men last night.

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In the Chiesa di Totti Library & Reference Guide, we defined a Garcia Special as any 1-1 draw, particularly one in which Roma had the lead only to cough it up at the worst possible moment. While yesterday's 1-1 draw wasn't a Garcia Special in the strictest sense of the word, it had many of the same hallmarks: missed chances, dodgy officiating, VAR calls that went against Roma, plays that should have been reviewed that weren't, late-game heroics and even the return of the two-toned kit combo.

While Roma did well to overcome a frustrating first half, one that was punctuated as much by Hirving Lozano's semi-controversial penalty as Roma's complete inability to fire a shot in Napoli’s direction (they didn't register a single shot on goal until the 39th minute), they were once again their own worst enemy, missing multiple clearcut chances in the second half, including a Lorenzo Pellegrini free-kick that struck the crossbar.

However, as has so often been the case in 2022, Roma came through when it mattered most. With a 1-0 defeat staring them straight in the face, and their already slim Champions League hopes hanging by a thread, Roma dug deep, silencing the throngs of fans filling the Stadio Diego Maradona thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy's emphatic 91st-minute equalizer.

As exciting as that finish may have been, it’s hard to classify this result as anything other than an opportunity lost. While José Mourinho's in-game decisions were spot on, the missed chances, errant passes, soft calls, and the league's insistence on letting opponents beat the shit out of Nicolo Zaniolo without consequences doomed the Giallorossi once more.

But it's not all bad news. Thanks to yesterday's draw, Roma extended their unbeaten run to an incredible 12 matches, with the club looking increasingly sure of itself and Mourinho's philosophies along the way.

So, before we shift our attention to this weekend's critical fixture against Inter Milan, let's pass out some halos and sharpen some pitchforks!

The Saints

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

Stephan El Shaarawy

Given his Egyptian heritage, Stephan El Shaarawy has proudly carried the Il Faraone moniker throughout his career, but considering his penchant for last-ditch goals, we might as well start calling him The 90th Minute Miracle Maker. For the third time this season, El Shaarawy scored a goal after the 90th minute. In fact, all three of his league goals this season have come in stoppage time. I'm not entirely sure why he's falling down the pecking order so precipitously, but his ability to flip a match on its head has saved Roma's bacon multiple times this season.

Whether he plays, five, fifteen, or fifty minutes, Stephan El Sharaawy is one of the most unique weapons in the entire league.

Lorenzo Pellegrini

They say three is the magic number, but for Roma's captain, yesterday was all about the deuce. Playing the entire match, Pellegrini rattled off two shots (both on target), completed two dribbles (from three attempts), doled out two key passes, and played two accurate crosses. Apart from that strange statistical quirk, Pellegrini added one tackle, four duels won, 12 passes into the final third, and four long balls to the Giallorossi cause last night.

Tammy Abraham

We were one glancing Abraham header away from three points, but Tammy Two Goals, a/k/a The Slim Reaper, atoned for that missed sitter with a diabolically clever assist on El Shaaraway's equalizer, deftly dummying/flicking the ball onto El Shaarawy at the edge of the box—all of which followed some sublime buildup play from Roma's deeper players.

In addition to his game-saving assist, Abraham registered one shot on goal, one key pass, two successful dribbles, two clearances, and nine duels won. You simply cannot say enough about this kid—he is phenomenal; let’s hope they figure out a way to make him a Roma lifer.

Gianluca Mancini

Going an entire derby without picking up a card was cause enough for celebration, but Mancini was a rock for Roma's defense last night. In 83 minutes of action, Mancini cleared two balls, blocked one shot, intercepted one pass, and completed three tackles while also winning five of eight duels. With the ball at his feet, Mancini was equally impressive, completing 96% of his passes, including five of six long balls and one key pass, while firing one shot on goal—a rather glaring miss, unfortunately, but don't let that dampen your enthusiasm, Mancini was great last night.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for his defensive partner...

The Sinners

Roger Ibañez

For 99.9% of his shift last night, Ibañez was fine; certainly not the Thiago Silva in the making we've seen intermittently over the past two seasons, but perfectly acceptable. However, his decision to charge after Lozano ultimately cost Roma two points and could see Ibañez lose his spot to Marash Kumbulla next time out.

Nicolo Zaniolo

Before I begin, just know this was an extremely close call. While Zaniolo flashed his usual skill, aggression (he engaged in 21 ground duels, winning 11), and bravado (five dribbles from nine attempts), he completed only 67% of his passes, attempted only one shot (a 75th-minute miss), went 0-3 on crosses, and lost possession a game-high 21 times.

However, as we mentioned at the outset, Zaniolo was continually abused by the defense while the officials turned a blind eye. It's frustrating to watch, so you can only imagine what it's like to live through.

Okay, on to those...

Stuck In Between

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

You know the drill. These guys did some good, some bad, or were mostly inert.

  • Jordan Veretout: He didn't play a ton (only 15 minutes) but he managed two tackles, one interception, one key pass, and one accurate cross. Pretty effective.
  • Nicola Zalewski: He wasn't able to impact the match in the attacking end, but he picked off two passes and won three tackles in a steady defensive effort from the rookie.
  • Chris Smalling: 96% passing, one tackle, one block, and two clearances. A quiet evening from Roma's British bulwark.
  • Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Unfortunately, he didn't get the rest he deserved yesterday, but Mkhitaryan was steady enough in his 28 touches, completing 85% of his passes.
  • Rick Karsdorp: He came so close to busting this match open, setting up one big chance for Abraham in the second half, but was otherwise pretty quiet last night.
  • Sérgio Oliveira: 89% passing, one interception, five duels won, and two tackles in 90 minutes.
  • Rui Patricio: Three saves, including one in the box, and he guessed correctly on Insigne's PK but couldn't quite get to it in time.
  • Felix Afena Gyan: Only played 13 minutes, but his initial dummy on El Shaarawy's eventual match-winner was incredibly clever and likely kept the defense at bay long enough for everything that followed.
  • Bryan Cristante: One key pass and one clearance in 45 minutes but his usually crisp passing was missing, and he was dribbled past three times.
  • Carles Pérez: It was nice to see him out there again after his recent heroics against Salernitana, but with only eight touches in 15 minutes, he didn't make a dent against Napoli.

That's it for now, let's hope for a better result against Inter this weekend.