Serie A Game of the Round – Roma vs Chievo


There were not many intense games this week and the most anticipated one, Napoli-Fiorentina, was decided by a single goal. All things considered, Roma-Chievo had the most drama.

Eusebio Di Francesco returned to his basics and arrayed a 4-3-3 with Lorenzo Pellegrini, Steven Nzonzi and Bryan Cristante in the midfield, as Javier Pastore was sidelined by an injury, picked Juan Jesus over Federico Fazio in the back-line and Stephan El Shaarawy as left winger. Roberto D’Anna trotted out a pretty defensive lineup, with two centre-backs like Nenad Tomovic and Federico Barba manning the flanks, and Nicola Rigoni initially starting over the returning Perparim Hetemaj.

La Lupa seemed to have learned from his previous mistakes and started off very aggressively, immediately pinning the opponents in their own box. Edin Dzeko had the first small chance with a difficult header after Cengiz Under scurried his way to the base line and sent in an interesting cross. The Bosnian then outworked the defender on the left-hand side of the box and delivered a juicy square ball, but Stefano Sorrentino batted it away.

Moments later, the Giallorossi deservedly opened the score with one of their trademark goals, as Alessandro Florenzi uncorked a deep cross from the right flank that found a wide-open El Shaarawy on the far post, who just had to poke the ball home after the bounce.

The home team kept attacking and doubled their tally at the half an hour mark, when Dzeko settled a lob by Under in the heart of the box and perfectly set up a trailing Cristante, who scored his first goal for Roma with an easy cross-shot.

Chievo commenced to react in the final portion of the half, first with an attempt from distance by Emanuele Giaccherini, then with Mariusz Stepinski skiing a header from very dangerous position that he should have left to a much more coordinated teammate behind him. Finally, Valter Birsa shook free deep in the box, but could not head home on another sweet cross.

Roma had two chances to put it away, but El Shaarawy could not direct his header properly and Pellegrini was unable to knock it past the goalie in a one-on-one, but from an angled position. Shortly thereafter, the Flying Donkeys cut the lead in half with a great goal by Birsa, who beautifully curled it home with his velvety left foot from about 20 meters out at the 51st minute.

Sorrentino denied two decent tries by Roma, the first one by Under after a great run, the second by Dzeko from long range, but the Giallorossi had evidently abated compared to the first half and the substitutions did not affect that.

Mariusz Stepinski tied the game with seven minutes to go: Mehdi Leris sent in a low cross by the left flank, Aleksandar Kolarov was caught by surprise by a deflection in front of him and his backwards touch was saved by Robin Olsen, but Stepinski was quicker than the Serbian fullback and Nzonzi on the rebound and bundled the ball over the line at the 84th minute.

There was time for two more chances, one for each side, as Dzeko sent a header over the bar from very good position, then a great curly shot by Emanuele Giaccherini was just tipped over the bar by Olsen.

The goal scorers El Shaarawy, Cristante, Birsa and Stepinski collected four fantasy points, while Dzeko, Florenzi and Nicola Rigoni garnered two for their assists.

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