Against Sassuolo Roma stalls again: 1-1

Abraham's 80th-minute lead was squandered: with the defense lined up, five minutes later Laurienté and Pinamonti eluded everyone and made the match eve

Abraham scoring his goal against Sassuolo

Abraham scoring his goal against Sassuolo (GETTY IMAGES)

PUBBLICATO DA Daniele Lo Monaco
10 Novembre 2022 - 09:42

To claim that Roma deserved the victory is probably pretentious because, in the end, the 1-1 result from Reggio Emilia is the fairest result for the actions that took place on the field. However, it is sacrosanct to regret a goal that no coach would ever want to take, especially in that manner. And a goal like that, for a Mourinho team, becomes even lunar, especially if you’re leading ten minutes to the end of a match just before the goal that had first complicated and then suddenly put the whole match on a downward slope. Lunar, yes: because the Portuguese have acknowledged merit, at a time when many are struggling to appreciate this work (but not Roma fans: "Papponi in silence, Mourinho to the bitter end."). This work is precisely his knack for giving his team the ability to defend an important result with only a few minutes left in the game. And so in such cases, this is a goal you can take on a spurt in the box, on a rebound, on a spot kick, or on a feat of the opponent. But to suffer the equalizer with the defense perfectly lined up, after a deeply Romanist but individual action (by Belotti, never lucid in his choices), with only one man stretching the defensive line (the impregnable Laurienté) and the defender at that moment deputed to his marking, the fifth Karsdorp, who instead of following his run and evenly turning to the opposite side, he left ten meters in two seconds which is really inconceivable. Mourinho took it very badly. His fiery words at the end of the game were dedicated to the Dutchman. Then Smalling also got involved. First, he lazily kept the opponent in play by staying a little lower on the throw-in, then he was unable to contain the only other man able to intervene on the cross from the outside (on which Mancini had gone to close down), namely Pinamonti. And so Abraham's great goal, splashed off the bench in the 20th minute of the second half and finally decisive and nasty as Mou would always want him to be, was thwarted. This is too bad because, with two more points they could have kept Inter below and overtaken Atalanta, guaranteeing themselves a fourth place at the end of the year with Sunday's eventual win with Toro. Tonight, however, Roma could find itself as far as seventh, and that would be a shame.

Perhaps the derby effect was also felt in Reggio Emilia by a tired and stunned team that took the field with four changes from last Sunday's lineup. Aside from the usual, unchanging defense, Celik was preferred to Karsdorp, Matic to Camara, Volpato replaced the injured Pellegrini and Shomurodov was the third to enjoy the ballot between Belotti and Abraham. It was too bad, however, that the Uzbek also manifested the same difficulties in turning offensive opportunities into hard currency. On the other side, Dionigi confirmed his Sassuolo with the trademark brilliant and dynamic 433, with the noodle D'Andrea (class of 2004) in place of Berardi (benched to return only in the final), Pinamonti in the middle and the very talented Laurienté on the left, another who will surely soon have many buyers willing to spend a lot, certainly more than the 12 million shelled out last summer by Carnevali to pick him up from Lorient. Roma's problem is always in the middle though, as Mou has reintroduced the pair ("who should not play together") represented by Matic and Cristante, with Volpato in the three-quarter who was delegated to first cover on Maxim Lopez. But the other two, Frattesi and Harroui, had a different pace than the Roma players. On at least three occasions in the first half, they passed in front of the white-shirted silhouettes at double the speed, going on to create a couple of serious headaches for Rui Patricio. By the end of the first half, there were two such chances on each side. In the 17th minute, there was a midfield play suffered by Matic that put Frattesi in a position to beat strongly at the net. He was precisely right-footed toward the goal, but Rui Patricio had the splendid instinct to lift the trajectory over the crossbar. In the 35th minute, Laurienté got back on Mancini with a flying hook on a long ball to draw applause from even the most aesthetical of the 4,000 Roma fans present at the Mapei. Then he shot a right-footed volley going just wide of the post to the left of Rui, who was standing there watching. In the 32nd minute, after Pinamonti a second earlier had gone wide in the Roma area to skip Rui finishing too wide, Roma's restart sent Zaniolo and Shomurodov into a promising two-on-two with the Green and Black central players. Nicolò was good at waiting for the right time to serve his partner on the right, but it was bad that the Uzbek's choice was to shoot the same even with the goalkeeper now outstretched instead of returning the ball to Zaniolo in the corridor that had opened up for him on the left. Nico would have scored with an empty goal. Then Zalewski had a chance in the 44th minute. Celik's long cross from the right was sensational. It was in the heart of the area. The Polish youngster on the edge of the offside impacted the ball too eagerly and sent it right into the crowded guest sector. Speaking of mistakes, special mention for Ayroldi's very bad decision in the 26th minute. Zaniolo served in space that was held back and was put down by Ayhan, but the referee did not intervene and even cautioned the Roma player who protested too ardently, and was eventually reprimanded by Cristante. Mourinho then poisoned himself on the bench.

But this was nothing compared to what would happen to him at the end of the game: the already-described equalizing goal. But the result remains fair for what the teams (didn't) do in the two halves. At the start of the second half, Ayroldi again made the Roma bench jump to its feet, first for failing to admonish Harroui who prevented Celik from quickly beating a free kick and then for stopping him with a late whistle which resulted from the action that Roma had quickly restarted. In the final, he would do even worse, much to Sassuolo's detriment. He would stop a very dangerous restart for the possible 2-1 to admonish Mancini who had foully blocked Frattesi when the hosts had found an opening to attack in the open field. Prior to this sensational denouement, it had been the coaches who had tried to change the inertia of the match from the bench, with many changes at halftime. They put in El Shaarawy, Abraham and Karsdorp in Roma for Zalewski, Shomurodov and Celik; and Traoré and Thorstvedt for D'Andrea and Harroui in Sassuolo. In the 26th minute, there was a double option. It was a restart of the Black and Green who was stopped twice by Karsdorp. Then for the Roma one with Abraham, who in the area, found an opening for Volpato who, tired, could not control the ball to shoot. So in his place came Bove (and Obiang for Lopez for Dionisi). Before Abraham's goal (Roma's insistent action, with many players in the box, Mancini's overlap on the right, and a very calibrated cross framed by Tammy with a chirurgic header) it had been Sassuolo in a nifty transition that had put Traoré in a position to score. However, Rui Patricio had still been very good. And when it seemed almost over and victory was within reach, the botched equalizing goal happened. A great pity indeed. Now with Torino, we need to end the year with dignity.