Roma put on a show, scoring sensational goals in thrashing of Torino
Roma put on a show of sensational goals as they warmed up for their Europa League return leg with Villareal by sweeping aside a spirited but porous Torino 4-1 to maintain both their 100 percent home record and second spot in Serie A.
Edin Dzeko set Luciano Spalletti's side on their way with his 19th league strike of the season, a beautifully drilled shot from just outside the area after a neat one-two with Radja Nainggolan in the 10th minute. That was swiftly followed up by Mohamed Salah's first Roma goal since November, a superb first-time strike that whizzed past poor Joe Hart.
Torino plugged away, but found Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio in superb form. Leandro Paredes left the Stadio Olimpico agog with an incredible half-volley that almost defied description, before Nainggolan replied to Maxi Lopez's consolation effort by curling home substitute Francesco Totti's delicate lay-off, taking his own tally for the season to 10.
Roma are playing their best football of the season at just the right time, and with Inter, Lazio and Napoli all awaiting after Villarreal, how excited Romanisti must be to see what this joyous team can do as the season heads towards its home straight.
Nine wins in their last 10 matches, 15 straight home victories, Europe's form striker Dzeko leading the line, a back line that looks as aggressive as it does solid and key footballers all in great form. Roma have a pretty thin squad, but players like Juan Jesus and Paredes are coming off the bench and slotting in like first-team regulars. There was even time for Totti to offer his customary assist.
Lopez's goal was well taken, but it was allowed by both Fazio and Thomas Vermaelen falling asleep just as their opponent started his run. That's it.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- By now this team is so in tune with Spalletti's demands that the manager just needs to send them out to play and he knows what kind of performance he will get. While Torino were nifty on the ball, they got very little joy out of Roma's back line and looking at Sunday's match no one would have thought Andrea Belotti had come into the contest just one goal behind Dzeko. Belotti was utterly invisible and that was due to a purring defensive set up by Spalletti.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Wojciech Szczesny, 6 -- Did what he had to do with the little he had to face.
DF Kostas Manolas 7 -- Returned to the right side of the back three in Antonio Rudiger's absence and looked much more comfortable than he has on the left.
DF Federico Fazio, 7 -- Marked down ever so slightly for losing his concentration for Lopez's goal, but otherwise interpreted the sweeper's role with precision.
DF Juan Jesus, 7 -- Has really come into his own in recent weeks and looked Manolas' equal on the other side of Fazio.
MF Bruno Peres, 7 -- Seems to have been spurred into action by his countryman on the other side of the pitch.
MF Kevin Strootman, 8 -- Lived up to his "Washing Machine" nickname by cleaning up everything in midfield.
MF Leandro Paredes, 7 -- Scored on what was surely one of the finest strikes anyone has ever given a football. Worth watching over and over.
MF Emerson Palmieri, 8 -- What a player this young man is becoming. Commands his flank with the authority of someone 10 years his senior.
MF Radja Nainggolan, 7 -- Put in another night of sweat and blood, this time capping it off with a goal that on almost any other night would have been the headline grabber.
MF Mohamed Salah, 8 -- Scored a great goal, was unlucky not to have a brace after hitting the post with a trademark curler and absolutely terrorised Antonio Barreca all game.
FW Edin Dzeko, 8 -- Four goals in as many days and 11 in eight matches, his latest was the strike of a man who knows he can do know wrong.
DF Thomas Vermaelan, N/R -- Showed why he's behind Jesus in the pecking order by letting Lopez slip in for his goal.
FW Francesco Totti, N/R -- Showed the presence of mind to set up Nainggolan's goal.
FW Diego Perotti, N/R -- Amazing that a player as good as he is can be relegated to just a couple of minutes off the bench.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC's AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley