Tommaso Milanese scored his first goal in the Roma jersey, but a team packed with youngsters lost 3-1 at CSKA Sofia thanks to Amadou Diawara and Federico Fazio howlers.
The Giallorossi were already guaranteed first place in the group, so took the opportunity to give three youth academy players their first starts: Tommaso Milanese, Pietro Boer and Mory Bamba, although Riccardo Calafiori pulled out with a stomach bug.
It took just five minutes for 18-year-old Boer to concede on his debut, as a Sankhare fresh-air shot turned into an accidental assist for Tiago Rodrigues to hit a daisy-cutter into the near bottom corner from the edge of the box. CSKA Sofia had been the only side in the Europa League without a goal yet this season, so it was an important milestone for them.
There was an even more important event for Roma, as Borja Mayoral knocked down a Bruno Peres cross for Milanese to control and fire in from 10 yards. It was the 18-year-old’s debut goal and he seemed to wipe away incredulous tears during his celebrations.
Tiago Rodrigues went close again, but only hit the side-netting this time, until the second CSKA goal was gifted to them by a dreadful Amadou Diawara back-pass, which Ali Sowe gratefully accepted.
Chris Smalling finally made his comeback in the second half following injury problems, and Borja Mayoral saw his attempted equaliser deflected at the last second after a give-and-go.
Just as Roma were pouring forward with a series of corners, they again gifted Sowe the goal, this time with Federico Fazio’s howler of a back-pass straight at the striker.
Sowe threatened a hat-trick, but couldn’t quite reach the ball flashed across from the left, while Gustavo Busatto bravely smothered at the feet of Borja Mayoral and Carles Perez turned a free kick over the bar.
CSKA Sofia 3-1 Roma
Tiago Rodriguez 5 (S), Milanese 22 (R), Sowe 34, 55 (S)
CSKA Sofia: Busatto; Zanev, Mattheij, Antov; Yomov (Vion 63), Youga (Galabov 74), Geferson, Mazikou; Tiago Rodrigues (Henrique 81); Sowe (Ahmedov 74), Sankharé (Beltrame 63)
Roma: Boer; Fazio, Kumbulla (Smalling 46), Juan Jesus; Peres (Tripi 82), Milanese (Villar 62), Diawara, Bamba (Karsdorp 63); Perez, Pedro; Borja Mayoral
Ref: Peljto (BIH)