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Smalling and Perez unlikely hero’s as Roma rallies late at the Olimpico #1440

A.S Roma 2 Salernitana 1FT

Roma would return home to the Stadio Olimpico following a disappointing result in the conference League as Bobo took a 2–1 advantage in the first leg of the quarterfinals in Norway. Although Roma took care of business last weekend against Sampdoria, earning themselves a 1–0 victory in League action, they are unbeaten in their last 10 as Jose Mourinho has this team riding momentum at the exact right time. The Europa League battle is taut, but Roma does seem to have all the leverage now; they would host the bottom of the league on Sunday afternoon in Rome. Salentina is staring relegation in the face as they will attempt to do the impossible against red hot Roma. They are six points from safety with a minimal chance to survive, but with many points still available, it’s not over yet as they would have to face a massive challenge against Roma. In the reverse fixture, it was a 4–0 victory for the Romans. It would be a classic match between European Challengers and relegation battlers. Both teams were desperate for points for different reasons as we approached kick-off on a Sunday afternoon in Rome.

After preparations and predictions, the match got underway at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma came out firing as expected and had most of the ball as they looked dangerous right from kick-off. In the opening minute, Felix Afena got his foot on the end of a Sergio Oliveira cross, but the defense blocked the attempt at goal. Just 3 minutes later, Roma was in it again with another chance to break the game open. After collecting a ball from Rick karsdorp, henrikh Mkhitaryan rifled a shot from out of the box, Luigi sepe makes have a save. A minute later, off the corner, Chris Smalling gets right in there, getting his head on the end of it, trying to pull it into the top corner but was a little off in the end. It was an incredibly rapid start for the Romans, something they should have expected at the start of the game. Roma is in 5th place Salentina is at the bottom; there is a significant gap between the qualities of the two teams. It was more of the same Roma continued pushing forward and looking on the verge of breaking through. Stephan El Shaarawy, at the 20-minute mark, made a brilliant run down the left side before supplying a short pass to henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian crafted a strike from a distance getting it a little to the left. Roma was in total and complete control; however, football can be cruel. Salentina won a free-kick in the 22nd minute from the free-kick rolled the ball as Ivan Radovanovic struck the ball with extreme power, beating rui Patricio as the bottom feeders somehow found themselves in front as Salentina took a 1–0 lead. Shortly after controversy struck, Mkhitaryan was pushed over in the box in a highly absurd decision after a video review didn’t give the penalty in what was clear as day. If you’re allowed to shove someone to the ground, then I don’t understand what this is. They played out the final 20 minutes of the first half, with Roma having a bunch of chances but unable to capitalize; after the opening 45 minutes, he was a 1–0 lead in favor of Salertina.

Rome was undoubtedly the better team in the first half and honestly should have been given a penalty. However, the free-kick From Salentina was exquisite to beat the best goalkeeper in the league, it has to be hit perfectly, and that’s precisely what it was. Unfortunately, now Roma would have to fight back and score two goals if they want all 3 points; the current situation has made things difficult for them. Mourinho Roma has been able to deal with these situations much better than past managers over the last couple of years, but it still was going to be an arduous task regardless of the lopsidedness of the teams. Roma brought on Nicolo zaniolo as Kumbulla was sacrificed. This was made to give Roma a more explosive option. The explosion is exactly what the young Italian provided; however, poor decision-making and selfishness, unfortunately, came along with it. The youngster was dribbling through multiple Defenders; as he cut into the box, he had not one not to but three teammates in better positions than himself; instead he wanted to take everybody on and lost possession immediately. While the entire point of bringing him on it’s for the explosion, he has to do his part and make the right decision. Roma lost the game; this could not afford to keep happening. La ball was in the attacking areas for Roma quite often; they continually put pressure on the opposition. They had a very aggressive approach, and I kept going for it. Nicolo zaniolo, what’s showing the qualities of a true playmaker while being the single most selfish player on the pitch, another opportunity arose, and once again, he tried to do it himself. It is hard to explain but shows how Dynamic he can be while adapting and trying to do it by himself; this approach is a one-way ticket to a defeat. We know how talented he is, but the way he was performing was infuriating, with no regard for anybody else. He just wanted to do it himself; people always question why I’ve never fallen in love with Nicolo zaniolo; this is your answer. About five minutes later, Felix Afena had a decent chance to score, putting his head through a Rick karsdorp cross, unable to put it into the back of the neck but positioning himself well and making the right decision despite the results. With about 30 minutes to go, Nicolo zaniolo stung one from outside the box with a very well-hit connection. That was the right decision to make; he had the space to do what he could do from outside the box. I didn’t mind that one. However, the next minute Tammy Abraham in an attacking position was ignored by Nicolo Zaniolo as the keeper didn’t even need to make a difficult decision as in went right to him. The window of Victory started slightly closing as we got later into the game. Nicola Zalewski, Carles Perez and Jordan veretout, and shomurodov entered the game to try to make that difference. Valentina immediately had a pair of chances, but the Roma defense and rui Patricio seemed unbothered in handling the situation. Time kept taking and taking and taking until the 81st minute; the moment had finally arrived, coming from the unlikeliest of sources. Carles Perez got a deep strike from outside the box into the back of the neck, getting the much-needed equalizer as Roma minimized the deficit. 4 minutes later, it happened again in the 85th minute on a free kick from well outside the box in the left corner substitute Jordan veretout curled a perfect ball into the box delivering it on time as Chris Smalling strikes with his left foot into the bottom as Roma in a matter of minutes took a 2–1 lead. 2 minutes later shomurodov put through by Mkhitaryan nearly scoring another. In stoppage-time, they had another opportunity to add a third. Nicolo zaniolo got himself in the box with an open Tammy Abraham on the break before missing a golden opportunity. However, it didn’t matter as the full-time whistle went with Roma winning it late with a come-from-behind 21 victory as they will take momentum into their two most important games of the season. It is all smiles at the Stadio Olimpico as the fans sing after the final whistle as they see their team Victorious again with the unbeaten streak now reaching 11.

It turned out to be a taut 90 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma doesn’t precisely walk over them even though they were the superior side throughout the match; it took some late heroics to collect the point they needed. An opportunistic free-kick from the visitors ended up putting Roma behind in a game I didn’t expect them to concede. In hindsight, I probably underestimated salentina; they’re at the bottom of the league for a reason, but at the same time, they have a desire to keep themselves in the league, which is a real battle at this point of the season, especially with so few games left in this campaign. They performed very well; they took advantage of a goalscoring opportunity on the free-kick and defended exceptionally throughout. Roma had two penalties denied by the official that could have seen them equalized before the start of the second half henrikh Mkhitaryan got pushed over in the box with no foul. No penalty was given which infuriated the Roma fans. It was a roller coaster ride in the second half. Roma had so many different chances to score, and it seemed as if the ball wasn’t going into the back of the net. This was another Mourinho masterclass; he made the right adjustment at the right moment. Carles Perez, very little used, comes out and scores to level the scores with less than 10 minutes ago, and then minutes later, Chris Smalling gives Rama the eventual winner. The adjustments made by Jose and the overall performance of this Roma team show their true character; it was a test, it was an ugly game. Roma was the better team throughout it, but it took them all the way down to the end to get the points they needed to Keep Pace with the Europa League Chase. With a performance of determination and character, Roma probably should have handled this game better and scored more goals, but the way they came together and rallied at the end to win was exactly what this team needed. Don’t take a great deal of momentum going into a massive game against Napoli on Monday night. The one negative that I can think of and something that needs to be addressed. I’m losing faith in Nicolo zaniolo. I genuinely am starting to doubt whether he can evolve and adapt as a player. From a talent perspective, he is exceptional on the knee injury, so you can do some fantastic things with the ball, and he has shown some Brilliance this season. He isn’t the player he was before the injuries, but he has shown signs of what he can become. Two things I brought up with him all season are selfishness and decision-making. He showed some incredible dribbling sequences throughout the game but would refuse to take the pass when it was sitting in front of them. He didn’t deserve to score in this game. Roma had a late chance at the end where he could have probably scored; he didn’t deserve it. Had he made a pass in that situation, Tammy Abraham would have scored Roma would have scored another goal. It is gut-check time if Nicolo zaniolo doesn’t start evolving as a player and stop trying to do everything the way he was dribbling the ball it was like he was trying to be Lionel Messi. Felix Afena is one of Rome has other talents; he has also had similar issues when it comes to decisions; in his last couple of games, he has shown growth Nicolo zaniolo isn’t showing any.




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Eliot Ben-Ner

Eliot Ben-Ner

Serie A and Bundesliga Writer A.S Roma/Wolfsburg Blog:

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