NEWS
Thursday December 12 2019
EL: Roma survive Wolfsberg scare

Roma eventually scraped through to the Europa League knockouts with a 2-2 draw against Wolfsberg, as Istanbul Basaksehir won the group.

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The Giallorossi would qualify for the Europa League Round of 32 with at least a point here and could even win the group if they got a better result than Borussia Monchengladbach.

Justin Kluivert, Chris Smalling, Davide Santon, Javier Pastore, Bryan Cristante, Davide Santon and Davide Zappacosta were out injured, so there had to be some squad rotation.

It took just five minutes to find a breakthrough, as Edin Dzeko ran on to a Henrikh Mkhitaryan through ball and was brought down by the goalkeeper. After treatment for a knock to the head, Alexander Kofler got back on his feet and immediately saw Diego Perotti roll a delicate penalty into the net.

However, the lead was short-lived, as Anderson Niangbo got to the by-line with a smart run, pulled back into the six-yard box and Alessandro Florenzi accidentally put into his own net as he was trying to anticipate Shon Weissman. It was the first goal Florenzi has ever scored in a Roma jersey.

It was certainly not dull for the neutral, as Roma restored their advantage at the 19th. Perotti sprung the offside trap on an Amadou Diawara through ball and rolled it across where Dzeko only had to tap in.

Wolfsberg had the ball in the back of the net again on 24 minutes, but only after Weissman had been flagged offside.

Diawara was booked for a dangerous tackle and will be suspended for Roma’s next Europa League fixture.

There was a huge scare straight after the restart, as Weissman sprung the offside trap for a header that bounced off the upright, with Roma defenders standing around waiting for a flag that was never going to come.

Leonardo Spinazzola went on a strong run from midfield to pull back from the by-line, Cengiz Under’s shot deflected for a corner, but Mirante needed a flying one-handed save to tip Niangbo’s curler out of the far top corner. In so doing, the veteran goalkeeper landed awkwardly on his shoulder and had to be replaced.

Pau Lopez’s first real contribution was picking the ball out of the net. Weissman snuck up around a distracted Federico Fazio for a diving header on Michael Liendl’s cross from the left, as Wolfsberg equalised again.

Mkhitaryan failed to get a clean header on substitute Nicolò Zaniolo’s cross to the back post, while Fazio stung Kofler’s gloves. The Austrian goalkeeper also needed a difficult save on a corner whipped to the near post in the final minutes.

News filtered through in stoppages that Istanbul Basaksehir had taken a 2-1 lead away to Borussia Monchengladbach, suddenly leaping to the top of the group. It also meant Roma would be eliminated if they lost to Wolfsberg.

Dzeko almost won it for the Giallorossi moments later, his volley from point-blank range somehow palmed away by Kofler.

It is remarkable that Roma scraped through in second place behind Istanbul Basaksehir, a side they beat 4-0 at home and 3-0 away.

Roma 2-2 Wolfsberg

Perotti pen 7 (R), Florenzi og 10 (W), Dzeko 19 (R), Weissman 64 (W)

Roma: Mirante (Pau Lopez 62); Florenzi, Mancini, Fazio, Spinazzola; Diawara, Veretout; Under (Pellegrini 66), Mkhitaryan, Perotti (Zaniolo 66); Dzeko

Wolfsberg: Kofler; Novak, Sollbauer, Rnic, Schmitz; Schmid, Sprangler, Wernitznig (Schofl 76); Liendl; Weissman (Hodzic 92), Niangbo (Steiger 94)

Ref: Pawson (ENG)

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