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Football Whispers
 By Terry Daley

Goal machine Dzeko at the double as Gonalons impresses on debut

Edin Dzeko celebrates one of his goals against Benevento.
Edin Dzeko grabbed a double as Roma routed Benevento on Wednesday.

Edin Dzeko was the star of the show as Roma swatted aside Serie A's bottom club Benevento 4-0 with an impressive show of force from a rotated line up that saw the Giallorossi establish a new club record of nine consecutive away league wins.

Striker Dzeko came away from the Stadio Ciro Vigorito with his second brace in a week -- the first a simple tap-in after great work from the excellent Aleksandar Kolarov on the left and the second a smooth left-footed curler just after the break -- but could consider himself unlucky not to have returned to Rome with two match balls.

As well as hitting the post either side of the interval with two brilliant strikes, the Bosnian would have been on hand for two more tap-ins had Fabio Lucioni and Lorenzo Venuti not turned two fizzing crosses from Bruno Peres and Kolarov into their own net.

Maxime Gonalons excelled on his debut and set Peres on his way to whip in the cross that doubled Roma's lead, and others, like Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gerson, give the impression of being right at home in coach Eusebio Di Francesco's 4-3-3 system.

The strength in depth shown in the last two matches is very encouraging for the weeks ahead, when Roma will come up against much stronger opposition than Wednesday night's committed but limited hosts. Udinese and Qarabag however, won't be looking forward their upcoming clashes with the rampant Dzeko and his Giallorosso teammates.


The way Roma's second string and new signings have just slotted into the team and got on with it is very impressive. Pellegrini looked like he'd been playing in Roma's midfield for years rather than a week, while Gonalons was a monster in the heart of the park and the three goals that came from full-backs bursting flanks is a Di Francesco trademark. Fifty-one shots and seven goals in two games is testament to how the team is adapting to the new style of play.


There were a few moments of panic in the first 20 minutes, but once Cataldi blasted wide a very presentable chance following Peres' dozing on the ball, Roma slipped up a gear and put in a practically flawless display.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- While some of the starting selections were forced on him due to Roma's lengthy injury list, he fielded a team with enough experience to keep a structure for the new boys to move in, while the substitutions were well-timed and thought out.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 6 -- While he wasn't a spectator like against Verona, the Brazilian had very little to deal with.

DF Bruno Peres, 6 -- Lost the ball in a ridiculous manner that but for poor finishing would have put the hosts in the lead, but made up for it with some fine play for Lucioni's own goal.

DF Fedrico Fazio, 6 -- Hard to judge on the basis of the opposition, but in any case barely put a foot wrong.

DF Juan Jesus, 6 -- See above.

DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 8 -- With two assists (if you can assist an own goal) and constant bursts forward, the Serb played almost as a winger -- and a very good one.

MF Kevin Strootman, 7 -- His usual dominating self. Kept it simple and took advantage of the furious movement around him.

MF Maxime Gonalons, 8 -- An outstanding debut. His brilliant pass to set Peres free for the second goal was the best example of his superb distribution.

MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, 7 -- The Italian looks so comfortable in Di Francesco's system that he has a legitimate claim for a regular place in the first 11.

FW Cengiz Under, 6 -- Much like against Verona, the least impressive of the new boys. Rushed and hurried with the ball, he nonetheless carried out Di Francesco's instructions to the letter.

FW Edin Dzeko, 9 -- When you come away from a game wondering if two goals are enough for your efforts, you know it's been a good night. Five in five and it could have been more.

FW Diego Perotti, 7 -- Won the ball and laid on Dzeko for his neat second. Carried out his duties well both on left and right.


FW Stephan El Shaarawy, 6 -- Much like Under, lacking on the final ball and shot, but excellent movement and dribbling.

MF Gerson, 6 -- Di Francesco has shown faith in his young charge, and the Brazilian is repaying his coach's faith.

FW Alessandro Florenzi, N/R -- A quiet cameo after the weekend's explosive return.

Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC's AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley


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