Serie A Week 1 - 19 Sep 2020 (19.45 UK)
Verona 3 - 0 Roma
Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi

The opening round of the Serie A season ended 0-0, but Verona were awarded a 3-0 win by default after Roma irregularly fielded Amadou Diawara.

You can read more about that story here.

The build-up to this season opener was overshadowed by Edin Dzeko’s imminent transfer to Juventus, and replacement by Arkadiusz Milik from Napoli, so the Bosnian was left on the bench. Nicolò Zaniolo, Diego Perotti and Javier Pastore were injured, so Pedro Rodriguez made his debut in support of makeshift centre-forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan, while Antonio Mirante was preferred to Pau Lopez. Verona missed Darko Lazovic and Marco Benassi, as Mert Cetin debuted against his old club.

A regional ruling allowed 1,000 people into the Stadio Bentegodi, although it came too late to sell tickets, so the stands just had friends and family of those who work for Verona, along with Roma owners Dan and Ryan Friedkin.

Andrea Danzi ran a huge risk and was booked for felling Jordan Veretout right on the edge of the box, with Federico Dimarco risking an own goal on the resulting corner.

Verona lost Alan Empereur to injury after just 19 minutes and Roma kept pushing, Mkhitaryan and Pedro prodding Leonardo Spinazzola pull-backs wide from seven yards.

Lubomir Tupta also wasted a golden opportunity, firing straight at Mirante, while Marco Silvestri parried a Veretout free kick.

Silvestri had to be on his toes for a crucial interception on 39 minutes when Mkhitaryan went clear through the middle on Lorenzo Pellegrini’s assist, sticking out a leg to redirect the ball.

Verona had a huge chance to score in first half stoppages, as Adrien Tameze’s effort from the edge of the box was deflected on to the woodwork by Mirante’s foot, then Bryan Cristante made a decisive header to clear the rebound.

Mattia Zaccagni replaced disappointing Tupta and Hellas stepped up a gear in the second half, Marco Davide Faraoni surging forward to go past everyone including Mirante, at which point the angle was too narrow and he could only flash a finish across the empty goal.

Di Carmine also should’ve done better with a free header over from Tameze’s cross.

Roma were forced into their first substitution on 72 minutes, as Rick Karsdorp felt a muscular twinge. The Giallorossi finally created a second half opportunity moments later, Lorenzo Pellegrini’s shot from the edge of the box palmed out for a corner after Spinazzola and Veretout combined down the left.

Verona hit the woodwork for the second time on 82 minutes, as Dimarco’s unusual shot caught Mirante off his line and looped over him to bounce off the crossbar.

Roma also rattled the woodwork with an absolute stunner from Spinazzola, who was comfortably their best player on the night. It was a control and volley screamer from outside the area that was arrowing its way towards the far top corner until it cracked against the bar.

Andrea Danzi pulled up with a thigh strain on 88 minutes, but Verona had completed their substitutions, so they had to hang on down to essentially 10 men.

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Verona: Silvestri; Cetin, Gunter (Ruegg 66), Empereur (Lovato 19); Faraoni, Danzi, Veloso, Dimarco; Tameze (Barak 66), Tupta (Zaccagni 46); Di Carmine (Ilic 77)
Roma: Mirante; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp (Santon 72), Diawara (Villar 89), Veretout, Spinazzola; Pedro, Pellegrini (Kluivert 78); Mkhitaryan
Ref: Chiffi