El Shaarawy back in action. Nicolo Zaniolo’s incredible goal steals the show.
Coming into Saturday’s match, Roma had previously defeated Torino four straight times conceding a grand total of one goal in those meetings. The fifth matchup would not play out in a similar fashion, instead, it would become a tale of two halves, ending in abysmal weather conditions.
Star winger Cengiz Under went down with an injury just four minutes into the match with an apparent thigh injury. The good news, if there is such a thing regarding injuries to star players is that Under, after appearing to have stretched a muscle, was able to walk off the pitch under his own strength. The injury was reminiscent of Roma’s last match against Entella where Juan Jesus injured himself early in the game, albeit in a much more gruesome fashion. It was revealed that Jesus would be out for a minimum of one month. Roma leading goalscorer Stephan El Shaarawy returned from absence, taking the field after the Under injury. Justin Kluivert took Under’s spot on the right wing while El Shaarawy resumed duties at his natural left wing position.
After the injury and a lackluster first ten minutes to start to the match, teenage prodigy Nicolo Zaniolo once again decided to take it upon himself to change the entire feel of the game. Fourteen minutes into the match Roma earned themselves a free kick a few meters outside the box. The initial kick was redirected by Federico Fazio back to Zaniolo who would create another highlight worthy goal in spectacular fashion. Working from the ground, the youngster put a shot on net which was initially rejected. Zaniolo immediately picked up his own rebound, and again working from the ground, put a perfectly placed high strike above the Torino goaltender. During the sequence one could feel that the tides had turned, breathing life into the team. Shortly after the 1-0 lead El Shaarawy was fouled inside the box, setting up an Aleksandar Kolarov penalty shot which was easily buried in the lower left-hand corner, making it 2-0.
Roma suffered a scare into stoppage time when Torino forward Falque burned the defense but ultimately choked during a breakaway which should have resulted in a goal. Torino seemed to take that momentum into the second half, scoring an early goal against a Roma defense who seemed more interested in watching the ball rather than playing it. Not long after, Cristian Ansaldi, who had been recklessly throwing his weight around the entire match, would even up the score after a well-placed strike made its way through a teammate’s legs, effectively screening Roma keeper Robin Olsen.
However, it wasn’t long before momentum swung back in Roma’s way. Patrik Schick replaced an ineffective Justin Kluivert, who was easily Rome’s worst player. Almost immediately after the substitution, Lorenzo Pellegrini guided a pass to El Shaarawy who cut inside from the left wing and made perfect contact, giving Roma the lead once again.
Fazio’s struggles at center back continued and were apparent at crucial moments of the game. The big Argentine’s assist to Zaniolo was his saving grace. While transfer rumors continue to circle with buzz of Roma acquiring another midfielder, the club’s biggest deficiency is quite clearly at center back.
El Shaarawy looked like his old self which should inspire EDF to give him back the starting job at left wing. The Pharaoh was easily Roma’s best player and didn’t seem to slow down one iota after the pitch was turned into a swimming pool midway through the second half.