A sensational Stephan El Shaarawy left-foot volley proved enough to give Roma the victory over a plucky Bologna side, their third straight 1-0 win.
The Giallorossi were missing Rick Karsdorp, Kostas Manolas and Emerson Palmieri missed out, while they rotated the squad ahead of the Champions League clash with Chelsea. The Rossoblu had to do without Antonio Mirante, Rodrigo Palacio, Saphir Taider, Vasilis Torosidis and Ibrahima Mbaye, but Mattia Destro was still benched in favour of Bruno Petkovic.
It was a family reunion, as Bologna winger Federico Di Francesco is the son of Roma Coach Eusebio Di Francesco. The son was immediately sharp, seeing his shot smothered by Alisson after out-sprinting the defenders.
The hosts tried to over-play it at times, Stephan El Shaarawy opting for a pass to Edin Dzeko rather than going for goal when sent clear by Gregoire Defrel. On the resulting corner, a double back-heel flick eventually saw Alessandro Florenzi’s shot charged down.
Dzeko knocked down El Shaarawy’s cross for a Defrel volley that was too close to the goalkeeper. The Bosnian really should’ve opened the scoring on 28 minutes, but incredibly turned a free header over from seven yards on a corner.
It was an open and entertaining game, as Alisson showed cat-like reflexes to claw an Adam Masina header away from point-blank range.
The deadlock was broken by a moment of sheer magic. A Florenzi corner was whipped in and El Shaarawy ran from deep to meet it with a magnificent volley off the inside of the left boot, steered in off the underside of the bar at the far top corner. It was simply impossible to stop.
Federico Fazio’s scorcher skimmed the bar from a tight angle, but Bologna were always dangerous on the counter in a high-tempo game.
The Little Pharaoh was relishing the rare start and after the restart drilled just wide, then turned Andrea Poli inside out with a cheeky turn to force the yellow card.
Dzeko had the ball in the net with an angled drive, but was flagged inches offside. Roma started to rest on their laurels after an hour and Bologna came back out, as Emil Krafth whipped a ball across the face of goal and Federico Di Francesco threw himself at it, just unable to get there.
Bruno Peres limped off with a thigh problem and Florenzi had timid penalty appeals waved away for a nudge from behind.
In the final minute, Verdi curled a trademark free kick just over the bar.