What a difference three days can make, right? After a lackluster performance against Juventus over the weekend that saw José Mourinho tell his players he was embarrassed to be their manager following a woeful first-half performance, the Giallorossi put out a dominant performance in a win over Monza that catapults them to the top of the table (for now).
Mourinho opted to make some changes for this one, starting Nicola Zalewski, Mehmet Çelik, and Marash Kumbulla for Leonardo Spinazzola, Rick Karsdorp, and Chris Smalling, respectively, giving Roma some fresh legs in key positions following the quick turnaround from the Juve match.
Following a relatively tame first fifteen minutes of the match where Roma didn't look particularly dangerous going forward, you'd be forgiven for wondering if this match was going to be your typical, bottom-of-the table trap-game. And while in previous seasons that may have rung true, this season, the Giallorossi have a weapon not seen by Romanisti in quite some time.
Enter Paulo Dybala. A Roma defensive clearance found the ball falling to Tammy Abraham at midfield, who managed an impressive flick-on with his head, sending a rampaging Dybala in on goal, flanked on both sides by Monza defenders. But despite the pressure on either side of him, Paulo cooly rifled in a shot near the top of the box, emphatically putting it away for his first Serie A goal as a member of the Giallorossi. Man, was it cool to see his famous celebration in Roma colors.
The injection of confidence brought on by La Joya's goal allowed Roma to take control of the game by the scruff of its neck, imposing their will on Monza and looking increasingly likely to add to their lead — though the visitors had an opportunity of their own to claw one back through Petagna.
But score again is exactly what Roma did, with their marquee summer signing delivering for the second time on the night. A Nemanja Matic long-ball to Abraham was incredibly misjudged by a Monza defender, narrowly sailing over his head. Tammy, ever quick to react, spun around and quickly carried the ball up the field and into the opponent's box, unfortunately finding his attempt on goal parried away. Due to a bit of fortune from the footballing gods, the ball was knocked out right towards an incoming Dybala, who slid on his shot attempt and got just enough on the ball to direct it into the back of the net. Not a bad way to get your 100th Serie A goal, eh Paulo?
With Dybala's brace nearly deflating a Monza side who, up to that point, had looked quite up for it, it now became a question of just how many goals Roma would win the match by. And while the Giallorossi had a whole host of chances to add to their lead — including a near debut goal for Belotti — it would end up being just a single additional goal tacked on, with Pellegrini once again delivering from a corner-kick, this time finding a rising Roger Ibañez who empathically put away the header and gave Roma a 3-0 lead on the night.
Unfortunate injuries to Kumbulla and Stephan El Shaarawy took a bit away from the post-game celebrations, but make no mistake; this was a much-needed performance from the Giallorossi.
In case you missed any of the action, enjoy the highlights below. If you want a deeper look, here is the extended highlight package.