Welp, that was deflating. In Roma’s first home match of the season against a direct top-four rival—a massive occasion by any measure—the Giallorossi narrowly fell to Atalanta 1-0. Once again, poor finishing by Roma was the story of the day, with Roma attempting an incredible 21 shots on the evening with no goals to show for it.
A last-minute injury to Paulo Dybala during warmups threw an early wrench in the Giallorossi’s game-plan, forcing José Mourinho to play Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park while pushing Lorenzo Pellegrini up into Dybala’s position.
Whether the injury to Dybala had an impact on the mentality of the squad to start the match, it’s hard to say, but Roma certainly seemed sluggish to open the match—not the approach that you wanted to see in a game of this magnitude.
As the game reached the half-hour mark, there was a growing inevitably that this was going to be one of those nights where Roma wouldn't be able to create anything offensively. And right on cue, Roma’s nightmare scenario unfolded as 18-year-old Giorgio Scalvini received the ball at the top of the box, shifted the ball onto his right foot, and rifled the ball past Rui Patricio to give Atalanta the lead on the evening.
Sure enough, conceding was the kick in the butt that the Giallorossi needed, who instantly came to life and began taking the game right to Atalanta. Unfortunately, that’s where the theme of the evening, poor finishing, began to rear its ugly head. First, Pellegrini sent Tammy Abraham in on goal with a wonderful ball, but the Englishman narrowly dragged his shot past the keeper and wide of the goal. Not long after, Roger Ibañez was equally unlucky as he saw his effort saved after a brilliant run-in on goal. Another Tammy near-miss closed out the half, but the signs were there that Roma had a comeback in them.
It didn't take long for the action to kick off in the second half, as just 10 minutes in, Mourinho was sent to the stands by the ref following the denial of a penalty shout on Nicolo Zaniolo that left the Portuguese tactician incensed.
Rather than sucking the life out of Roma, Mourinho’s dismissal seemed to embolden the players, who took complete control of the match in their search for an equalizer. Atalanta themselves hardly had a sniff of goal in the second half, with their best chance to score coming off a corner kick that led to an Abraham goal-line clearance.
The Giallorossi threw on both Andrea Belotti and Eldor Shomurodov as time began to run out, and with the number of chances that Roma was creating, you hoped that it was just a matter of time before they found the equalizer. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be on the evening, as the poor finishing kept the scoreline at 1-0.
Shomurodov, in particular, will look back on the evening as a missed opportunity, as he missed a wide-open header that was Roma’s best chance to equalize on the night and was unlucky enough to see his cutback pass to Belotti narrowly intercepted, with the former Torino man unmarked and with an empty net in front of him.
In case you missed any of the action, enjoy the highlights below. If you want a deeper look, here is the extended highlight package.