Carles Perez marked his first start with the only goal, as Roma beat KAA Gent in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg largely because the Belgians were even more wasteful than their hosts.
The Giallorossi were in dire need of a boost after losing four of their last five competitive games. January signing Carles Perez got his first start, with Aleksandar Kolarov and Jordan Veretout stepping in, but Javier Pastore, Amadou Diawara, Nicolò Zaniolo, Antonio Mirante, Davide Zappacosta and Merit Cetin were injured, while Bruno Peres was not on the UEFA list. Belgians Gent missed Roman Yaremchuk, but had striker Laurent Depoitre back after a month out of action.
Carles Perez made the perfect start, as he was sent clear by an Edin Dzeko through ball following Lustig’s error and kept his cool to sweep past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Leonardo Spinazzola almost gifted an equaliser with his clearance on to Depoitre’s shin, but Pau Lopez was alert to smother the ricochet, then Roman Bezos drilled not far wide and the Sven Kums effort was deflected past the near post.
Roma were given a real let-off on 40 minutes, as they gave the ball away cheaply again in midfield to spark a three-against-two counter, but Gent failed to make the most of it, Vadis Odjidja firing over from the edge of the box.
There was a huge opportunity for 2-0 on 51 minutes when a free kick found Chris Smalling at the far post, but Thomas Kaminski somehow made the save with his trailing arm from point-blank range.
A Bezus snapshot was smothered and Bryan Cristante’s header from a free kick bounced off the upright, but it wouldn’t have counted anyway, as the midfielder was offside.
Roma continued to gift opportunities to the Belgians, as first Pau Lopez got away with a poor pass, then the goalkeeper had to parry a strike when Odjidja was allowed to wander into the box relatively undisturbed.
Moments later, Odjidja tested Pau Lopez again, forcing a fingertip save over the bar. Depoitre wasted a golden opportunity, as he sprung the offside trap only to prod the cross mid-air into the grateful arms of Pau Lopez.
Carles Perez rode two tackles for the strike to eventually be deflected wide by the third defender, but Gent were again very dangerous with a free kick that Pau Lopez spilled, only for Depoitre to prod it back into his arms again.
Roma had a late flurry of opportunities to double their lead, as Kaminski managed a tough reaction save on Kolarov’s header at the back post, as Davide Santon stood the ball up for his fellow full-back. Moments later, the Henrikh Mkhitaryan pull-back was inches beyond Dzeko, but there was time for another late scare with Pau Lopez flapping at a cross.
Roma 1-0 Gent
Carles Perez 13 (R)
Roma: Pau Lopez; Spinazzola (Santon 69), Fazio, Smalling, Kolarov; Veretout, Cristante; Carles Perez, Pellegrini (Mkhitaryan 79), Perotti (Kluivert 82); Dzeko
KAA Gent: Kaminski; Lustig, Plastun, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Mohammadi; Kums (Marreh 90), Owusu, Odjidja; Bezus (Chakvetadze 74); Depoitre, David
Ref: Kabakov (BUL)
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