Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored on his Serie A debut as Roma got their first win of the season, beating Sassuolo 4-2 with a hat-trick of Lorenzo Pellegrini assists.
Summer signings Mkhitaryan and Jordan Veretout were immediately thrown in for their debuts from the start, but Nicolò Zaniolo was dropped, with Cengiz Under, Diego Perotti, Davide Zappacosta and Chris Smalling injured. The Neroverdi missed Rogerio and Francesco Magnanelli, but started new buys Gregoire Defrel (against his old club) and Vlad Chiriches.
Within 110 seconds, Justin Kluivert had sprinted into the box and was tackled by Federico Peluso. Even the Roma man seemed to assume it was a corner, but the referee awarded a penalty. As Aleksandar Kolarov stood waiting to take the spot-kick, the message came through from the VAR booth that Daniele Chiffi should review and he changed his mind, seeing that Peluso got the ball.
Edin Dzeko forced a flying save from Andrea Consigli and on the resulting Lorenzo Pellegrini corner, Bryan Cristante got between two defenders for a header at the near top corner.
Sassuolo were not downhearted and kept possession for several minutes at a time, eventually Defrel’s shot bounced off the upright, hit Pau Lopez and Ciccio Caputo turned in the rebound when in an offside position.
Instead, Roma doubled their lead with more of a route one approach, as Aleksandar Kolarov whipped in the cross from the left and Dzeko peeled away from Gianmarco Ferrari to side-foot in from six yards, despite Consigli getting his hands to it.
Mkhitaryan scored a goal 22 minutes into his Serie A debut and it was Pellegrini’s second assist of the game, a smart through ball releasing him down the left and the Armenia international drilled into the near bottom corner left-footed.
Sassuolo continued to pass it around with patience and Manuel Locatelli skimmed the upright, but Pellegrini made it a hat-trick of assists for 4-0.
Veretout won back the ball in midfield and Pellegrini immediately launched Kluivert from the centre-circle, springing the offside trap and beating Consigli one-on-one.
Dzeko almost had a fifth before the break, chesting down a long Alessandro Florenzi ball and Consigli smothering at his feet.
Ferrari risked an own goal to make a last-ditch interception, preventing Dzeko from tapping in the Kolarov pull-back.
It didn’t get any better after half-time, as Pellegrini won back possession and his low shot was deflected on to the base of the upright.
Moments later, Dzeko’s header cracked against the crossbar on an Alessandro Florenzi cross.
Instead, Sassuolo got one back with a magnificent Domenico Berardi free kick, which clipped the underside of the bar on its way past helpless Pau Lopez.
Incredibly, Roma hit the woodwork yet again on 56 minutes, this time a Gianluca Mancini looping header striking the far post on a Kolarov chipped up free kick routine.
The Neroverdi didn’t give in and Ciccio Caputo’s strike was deflected to graze the upright, but a perfectly-timed Chiriches tackle prevented Dzeko giving Pellegrini his fourth assist of the game.
It remained surprisingly open, as Berardi completed his brace for 4-2 at the end of a marvellous team move, which saw Caputo let a Duncan pass through with a dummy for Berardi to score from 12 yards.
Junior Hamed Traore and Caputo went close, but Javier Pastore somehow failed to nod in a cross from a couple of yards, only grazing the ball.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk