Roma dropped stars like Daniele De Rossi and rode their luck as Atalanta wasted chances, but emerged 2-0 winners in a thrilling encounter.
Both sides had to recover from embarrassing defeats last weekend, as the Giallorossi lost 4-1 at Juventus and Atalanta were crushed 5-1 at home by Torino. Zdenek Zeman really wielded the axe, dropping Daniele De Rossi, Nicolas Burdisso and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, while Miralem Pjanic and Dodo are injured.
Stefano Colantuono had few options, as Guglielmo Stendardo, Daniele Capelli, Davide Biondini, Thomas Manfredini, Carlos Carmona, Ivan Radovanovic and Ferreira Pinto are sidelined with Stefano Lucchini suspended.
Roma started aggressively with a Michael Bradley strike and Francesco Totti free kick charged down, but in classic Zeman fashion German Denis sprung the offside trap in midfield due to an Ivan Piris error and was clear on goal, Maarten Stekelenburg parrying and Marquinhos hoofing the loose ball away.
Stek was called on again moments later to smother an Ezequiel Schelotto header from the Maxi Moralez free kick, then Denis drilled just wide from the penalty spot when Maxi – the shortest player in Serie A – somehow won a header in the box.
Atalanta thought they had scored on 16 minutes when Giuseppe De Luca got to the by-line and pulled back for Moralez, who volleyed on to the crossbar from six yards!
The Giallorossi were riding their luck and did it all the way through to take the lead against the run of play. Erik Lamela exchanged passes with Totti thanks to the captain’s delightful dink and the Argentine just about managed to roll it very slowly past the on-rushing Andrea Consigli.
Lamela had penalty appeals for a clumsy Maxi Moralez challenge, while Stekelenburg got down to palm a long-range Luca Cigarini snapshot round the near post.
It should’ve been 2-0 just before the break when Lamela knocked down a Federico Balzaretti cross-field pass, but Mattia Destro volleyed it on to the crossbar.
Straight after the restart Alessandro Florenzi’s stop and volley whistled inches wide, then Lamela blasted over the bar. Totti unleashed a screamer from 40 metres that Consigli flew to push out of the far top corner.
Another Totti rocket skimmed the woodwork, but Roma did finally double their advantage on the hour mark.
Consigli only parried a fierce Destro strike from the edge of the box into the path of Michael Bradley to fire over the goalkeeper at the near post. It was a fine way for the American international to mark his return from injury, scoring his first goal in a Roma jersey.
Guido Marilungo made his comeback from a long injury lay-off and Denis nodded a corner off target with a free header.
Destro is still looking for his first Giallorossi goal and again tested Consigli. Denis had the ball in the net, but was flagged offside – incorrectly – when redirecting a wayward shot. Once again, Piris got it wrong.
Consigli beat away a Totti strike on the counter-attack, as both sides tried to score to the very end.