Score: A.S Roma 3 Shakatar 0FT
Following a very ugly and tough 1-0 Victory against Genoa, Roma prepare for the Europa League round of 16 matchups against Shakhtar Donetsk. They would be at home at the Stadio Olimpico for the first leg of this match. Paulo Fonseca previously coached at Shakhtar Donetsk, and Mkhitaryan previously played there as well. A lot of emotional ties between the two clubs. Roma knocked out Shakhtar Donetsk in the Round of 16 of the Champions League several years ago on their way to the semi-final; their last meeting was a 1-0 Roma victory following an edin Dzeko goal that took them through to the quarters on away goals. Roma had got past the Braga while Shakhtar Donetsk Advanced after beating Maccabi Tel Aviv. It was a very tight affair between the two teams. They were high-quality chances, but there weren’t very many of them, especially in the first half. Eventually, Roma found their footing as Lorenzo Pellegrini was put through by Pedro Rodriguez, ultimately leading to Roma’s opening goal as the captain gave Roma a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, henrikh Mkhitaryan had to leave because of injury before the end of the first half. It continued to be a taut battle, but when Stephan El Shaarawy came off the bench in the second half Roma push themselves in the Forefront of the quarter-finals bojar mayoral, and Stephan El Shaarawy connected on a counter-attack as Roma score their second, giving them a 2-0 lead it would be the first goal El Shaarawy has scored since returning to Roma in January. A few minutes later, Gianluca Mancini not only ended the game but more or less ended the tire as well as his header gave Roma a 3-0 lead. Shakhtar could not get the away-goal that they needed, contrary to what the scoreline says Roma converted on their chances, and that was a big difference. Roma was in control but wasn’t overly dominant necessarily, but they got the goals that certainly will take them through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Paulo Fonseca defends the Stadio Olimpico against his former team as Roma takes care of business as they all but secure their spot in the quarter-finals with a big victory against the Ukrainian Giants.
Roma will come out out of their typical 3421 formation. In goal between the sticks as always would be Paula Lopez. The three center-backs would consist of Max Kumbulla on the left, Gianluca Mancini on the right, and Bryan cristante in the middle. The wing-backs would stay the same, with Leo spinazzola as the left wing-back and Rick karsdorp as the right wing-back. The defensive Midfield would consist of Adamu Diawara and Gonzalo Villar. Upfront as the attacking midfielders sitting underneath the striker would be Pedro Rodriguez on the left and Captain Lorenzo Pellegrini on the right. Upfront surprisingly would be henrikh Mkhitaryan Operating as a false nine. Roma would have several different types of options Off the Bench if needed.
After preparations and predictions, the match was just about to get underway at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the Europa League round of 16 first leg. For the most part, it was a very evenly-matched game between two sides that have their eye on potentially going deep in the competition. On one side, you have a Shakhtar Donetsk team that is one of the best-attacking sides in Europe and can leave gaps in their defense and Roma team that typically can get on the break and has other ways to do significant damage. It went back and forth really early in the match. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, just minutes into the game, hit a strike from outside the box, being saved really kind of feeling the temperature of what kind of game it was going to be. A minute later, the Ukrainians hit back with their own chance. Taison, a really instrumental player in Fonseca’s Shakhtar before moving to Rome, cut inside the box and tried testing the goalkeeper, ultimately being denied. A minute after that, it was another chance for Roma. A Lorenzo Pellegrini cross fell to Gonzalo Villar, who struck from inside the box but ultimately was denied by the goalkeeper. It was a very quick and Rapid start between the two teams, but in all honesty, there weren’t many changes outside of the opening 10 minutes. It was a back-and-forth battle with two teams trying to find that space to be effective. You could see how Roma played that they were missing their catalysts or quote on quote their glue of the counter-attack in Jordan veretout. However, eventually, Roma got themselves in a position to take the lead and converted on it. In the 23rd minute, Pedro Rodriguez sent a Pitch Perfect through ball inside to Pellegrini, who found enough space to convert from the side of the box into the bottom corner to give Roma the 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, the Ukrainians try to add to the spoils. Junior Morales came dangerously close following a Dodo cross, but Roma remained in the lead. A little less than 10 minutes later, Roma had to deal with another injury concern as Mkhitaryan picked up a knock against his former side having to leave the game. Obviously, a very concerning thing considering he is the team’s second-best player. Boja mayoral enter the game as he came in for The Armenian. about 10 minutes before the end of the first half, Bryan cristante can close on a header coming from a Lorenzo Pellegrini cross; the center-back put his head through the motion but misfired slightly. It wasn’t necessarily an opening 45 minutes of a lot of chances; they were minimal chances but enough to see Roma lead 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to Lorenzo Pellegrini.
For whatever reason, this game didn’t have a high volume of chances but did not lessen the excitement between the two teams. Shakhtar Donetsk ended up having a significant advantage in possession, something that was not expected to happen, especially in Rome. Early in the second half, Tete tried to sneak the ball past Lopez inside the box, but the Roma goalkeeper managed to get his hand to it continue to be back and forth during the beginning points of the second half. Eventually, the game opened up, and Roma started looking much more dangerous. It wasn’t that Roma was much more dominant; like I said, it was evenly matched, but Roma have the higher quality chances Roma started to display control. Roma went to the bench as Pedro Rodriguez made room for Stephan El Shaarawy. He immediately impacted, nearly scoring in his first couple of minutes as Pellegrini set up El Shaarawy, who saw a shot saved. Lorenzo Pellegrini missed from the side of the box before Junior Morales, and Macon both had opportunities to get the visitors back into the game, but eventually, Roma would get that second goal. On a counter-attack, Mayoral supplied Stephan El Shaarawy a run inside the Box, ultimately finding the back of the net as Roma took A 2-0 lead. Just four minutes later, Roma would get a third when Bryan cristante supplied a headed pass into Gianluca Mancini, who used his head to Corral the ball in the back of the net as Roma ran out to a 3-0 lead. Roma made late substitutions; you try to see them keep the lead. Shakhtar Donetsk, we’re not able to break through throughout the 90 minutes as they were put in a very vulnerable and uncomfortable position. Roma held them off to ultimately earn the 3-0 Victory taking a three-goal lead into the second leg. Shakhtar did not even secure an away goal as Roma are essentially through after Shakhtar played with a dangerously high line. Roma still needs to make sure that they do not underestimate the opposition, and they put themselves in the best position to hold it, but Roma more or less has finished the job as they have one foot in the door of the semi-final.
Shakhtar Donetsk, what is expected to be Roma’s first Big Challenge in the Europa League this far in The Knockout round, would test them. It’s certainly did at different points of the game, but ultimately, Roma was able to do all those things that they couldn’t do against Genoa. Roma is without their best player; Veretout is critical to Rome’s counter-attacking play, and over the weekend, they could not do anything about it. Roma played with a bizarre lineup without a striker; it seemed to work to a certain extent, but we didn’t get to see it very long as Mkhitaryan got injured shortly after Pellegrini’s goal. Despite Roma were wasn’t overwhelmingly dominant but had control and took a swipe at their changes, they did a lot of nice things and played very well. Still, they didn’t humiliate Shakhtar in any way; it was a very close game until the second half before Roma blew the door off. Roma found those gaps and found those moments to put themselves in a great position. This game did not have a high variety of chances, but Roma was able to convert when it counted. They got on the counter-attack just enough and made improvements on all the things they failed to do in the game against Genoa. El Shaarawy came off the bench and gave the team some energy; he is my man of the match. Roma defended well; they went after it, and then they scored twice within 10 minutes; it was what really killed them. Shakhtar was not allowed to be aggressive and took too many risks in the second half. Roma struck two goals in the back of the net in a concise amount of time. Roma in a perfect position to continue to contend for the trophy and Roma put together their best European performance of the Paulo Fonseca Era.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephen El Shaarawy