Roma travel to Kyiv on Thursday night looking for professional performance and safe passage through to the Quarter Finals of the Europa League.
Roma holds a 3-0 aggregate lead from the first leg, will be looking for a strong showing in Kyiv, and to make it through to the business end of the Europa League.
Sadly, Roma did not take the excellent performance of last Thursday evening into the Serie A action on Sunday afternoon. Just 64 hours later after a draining Europa League first leg against Shakhtar Donetsk, Roma went down 2-0 away at 19th place Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.
Parma were winless in 17 Serie A games and 18 in all competitions, but Roma did not look at the races and succumbed to a disappointing 2-0 away defeat. That defeat dented Roma hopes for a Champions League spot as 4th place Atalanta who played Friday night beat Spezia 3-1. Juventus in 3rd place who played Sunday late afternoon defeated Cagliari 3-1, so after that defeat, it will be tough for Roma now to break into the top 4.
Injuries and fatigue were always going to catch up with this Roma side, the coped well with the schedule before the game on Sunday afternoon. But I feel maybe Sunday game with a squad dwindling on fit players was a game too far.
Roma just looked leggy and second to the ball when Parma attacked them. I do feel if Lorenzo Pellegrini non-award of his foul in the penalty area was given it could have been a different story. The early goal would have given Roma confidence against a Parma side woefully out of form. But sadly, was not given and just a couple of minutes later, Parma broke down their right through Dennis Man who crossed excellently for Valentin Mihaila who made no mistake with no Roma defenders around him.
The penalty for the second goal is hotly debated and the awarding of the penalty killed of the game for Roma, Roger Ibanez made a challenge on Graziano Pelle where on multiple replays it showed in slow motion that Ibanez got to the ball. Marco Piccinini saw otherwise and had his whistle quick to his mouth and awarded the penalty. Hernani made no mistake sending Pau Lopez the wrong way. Parma showed something that they have not done in recent weeks and that is game management. They showed that on Sunday, they restricted Roma to only a couple of shots in the latter part of the second half and comfortably won the game.
Shakhtar Donetsk bounced back after European disappointment on Thursday night in Rome with a 4-0 home win over Desna Chernigiv on Sunday afternoon. Wingers Tete and Manor Solomon both netted braces as Shakhtar recorded a comfortable home win. Shakhtar Donetsk remain second in the Ukrainian premier league and now have a 7-point gap over third place Zorya Luhansk who lost 2-0 at home to league leaders Dynamo Kyiv.
Luis Castro the Shakhtar Donetsk coach felt that the 3-0 home win for Roma was unjust and that Roma second goal scored by Stephan El Shaarawy should have been disallowed. Castro complained that there was a foul in the build-up where the referee played advantage and his side gave the ball away and Roma pounced and capitalised and scored.
I was extremely impressed with Shakhtar Donetsk they moved the ball well to the attacking areas and on any other day, they would be coming back to Kyiv with an away goal. The game was in the balance at 1-0, but soon as Stephan El Shaarawy scored the game was over, Gianluca Mancini scored moments later to make it 3-0. But at 1-0 with Luis Castro side dominating possession, they were finding gaps and exploiting Roma defence, and creating chances. They looked calm and measured in possession but the moment in front of the goal was lacking. Pau Lopez had to make some crucial saves at 1-0 from Junior Moraes and Tete. If those goals went in, it would have been a different story going into the second leg.
PREDICTED LINE UPS:
SHAKHTAR DONETSK (4-1-4-1)
Trubin, Dodo, Vitao, Matvienko, Ismaily, Marlos, Tete, Alan Patrick, Maycon, Taison, Junior Moraes.
Pau Lopez, Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez, Karsdorp, Villar, Diawara, Spinazzola, Pellegrini, El Shaarawy, Borja Mayoral.
This will be an intriguing second leg to watch on Thursday afternoon. Shakhtar Donetsk will be looking to start on the front foot and score early. If Roma can weather the early storm and be professional, then the Quarter Finals will be in sight. This will be a tricky game in Kyiv, especially with a massive game on Sunday night against Napoli on the horizon. This tie is not over yet.