Roma may be stomping all over their Serie A competition, but we've seen the demands of a compact fixture list upset the apple cart before. Facing a quick turnaround after Wednesday's thrilling two-goal comeback against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, if Roma was ever to slip up against a league opponent, surely this was the day. Even with a paltry five points from their first seven matches, Sassuolo had enough spirit to upset the Giallorosse, who were gunning for their eighth straight league win.
However, if you know anything about this particular Roma team, then you know they offer no quarter for excuses. Whether they're facing mighty Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico or eighth-place Sassuolo on the road in front of a sparsely packed crowd, Alessandro Spugna's side nearly always hits their mark.
And while it took a bit longer than usual and wasn't as resounding as many of their recent league romps, Roma got the job done this afternoon. After a brief settling-in period, including a few near-misses, Roma drew first blood in the 15th minute when captain Elisa Bartoli cut in from the left flank and found Manuela Giugliano camped out in the penalty area. After a brilliant first touch in which she settled the ball and turned past the defender in one smooth motion, Giugliano pulled the keeper off her line before slotting the ball inside the right post to give Roma a one-nil lead.
Barbara Latorre nearly doubled Roma's lead four minutes later when she unfurled a beautifully lofted ball from 25 yards out, but the Spanish forward's shot didn't bend quickly enough to drop inside the upper left-hand corner. It would have been a cracking effort for her first Roma goal, but the shot dipped maybe a second too late.
Sassuolo managed to stem the tide for the remainder of the first half, but anyone watching this match knew Roma wasn't done collecting Sassuolo souls. While a one-goal lead can often be perilous, the Giallorosse acted quickly to remove all doubt from this match, scoring a chaotic but ultimately decisive goal in the 51st minute.
And once again, Bartoli played the facilitator, chipping a ball into the area from 30 yards out, finding Emilie Haavi on the right edge of the box. After winning the header, Haavi cut in from the right side of the box, pulling as many as four defenders into her orbit as she twisted and turned inside the box.
While it felt like Haavi was essentially twisting in the wind, Saki Kumagai made a clever little move, slipping between the defenders as they were busy tracking Haavi. From there, Haavi had the presence of mind to slip the ball through a tiny pocket of space, playing Kumagai to the threshold of the goal for a tap-in.
Two goals. Three points. Eight straight wins. Done and dusted.