After a dreadful start to the season that saw his club slip to the lowest reaches of the table, and with calls for his job ringing throughout the Italian press, José Mourinho had to mastermind his way out of the basement. A veteran of some of the biggest clubs and toughest leagues in the world, Mourinho was always up for the challenge, but, as it turns out, the answer to Roma's prayers was staring them right in the face: just give the ball to Romelu Lukaku.
Since signing with the Giallorossi on deadline day in August, Lukaku has been a menace, scoring five goals in his first seven appearances in all competitions for Roma—a streak he continued this afternoon against Cagliari.
While Lukaku would put his figure print on this fixture, Houssem Aouar, another summer signing, got the party started in the 19th minute. After a sluggish start to the match, Leonardo Spinazzola and Aouar combined to put Roma on top, with Spinazzola playing the Algerian midfielder into the box with a well-placed chipped ball, which Aouar finished with ease.
Not to be outdone, Rick Karsdorp and Lukaku delighted the away supporters with a blink-and-you-'d-miss-it goal. Taking the initial feed from Paulo Dybala, Karsdorp burst down the right flank before firing a ball toward Lukaku in the middle of the box, gifting Big Roma a gimme goal to extend Roma's lead.
While Cagliari managed to stem the tide to close out the first half, Roma's new two-headed monster, the striker pairing of Romelu Lukaku and Andrea Belotti, put the match completely out of reach. Belotti, who came on for an injured Dybala late in the first half, scored a beautiful individual goal, shaking free from a defender with a series of twists and turns before beating the keeper low and away. While VAR was consulted, Belotti's brilliant effort stood, giving the previously beleaguered striker five goals in all competitions this season.
Lukaku would add a second goal in the 59th minute—his seventh in eight games—and while he chased a hattrick for the remainder of the second half, the big Belgian striker was surely content with a brace and three points, ushering the Giallorossi into the international break on a high note.
Cagliari would grab a late consolation goal after Bryan Cristante was called for a handball. That blemish notwithstanding, this match was all Roma, who climbed level with 10th place Bologna on 11 points.