Lorenzo Pellegrini, Kostas Manolas both 8/10 as Roma rule the Eternal City
Roma's season finally looks to be back on the right track after a fabulous win over Lazio in a pulsating Rome derby. The Giallorossi were on the brink of a full-blown crisis after last week's awful defeat at Bologna but two wins in the matter of days over local rivals Frosinone and now the Biancoceleste have brought sunny skies at Roma and an even bluer hue for the Eternal City's army of Romanisti.
Lazio got off to a powerful start but the balance switched once Edin Dzeko created Roma's first good chance of the match in the 22nd minute, cutting inside on the counter and forcing Thomas Strakosha into a decent stop. That began a 10-minute spell with chances at either end, the best of which fell to Stephan El Shaarawy, or rather drifted by him as Daniele De Rossi's beautiful cross floated across the pitch without the attacker making a move for a ball that passed by right by his nose. The Pharaoh made up for it just before half-time, however, bundling into the ball ahead of Strakosha and allowing man-of-the-match Lorenzo Pellegrini to back-heel home the opener.
Roma continued that dominance in the second half, but wastefulness from El Shaarawy and a inexplicably poor attitude form Edin Dzeko hampered Roma's attacks. Ciro immobile only needed one decent chance to equalise for Lazio in the 66th minute, bashing past a lumpen Federico Fazio and rolling home a neat finish.
Lazio old boy Aleksandar Kolarov put Roma rightly back into the lead with a trademark free kick, after which the Lazio lights cleary went out.
Finally, Fazio made amends for previous mistake four minutes before time, sending the Giallorossi into raptures by crashing home Pellgerini's fabulous cross with a bullet header that capped his team's best display of the season so far. The Curva Sud partied while those at the other end could only watch on in horror, their hated rivals finally finding their feet right in front of them. Could this be the spark that gets things up and running?
The very sloppy first 20 minutes made it look like Roma fans were in for a long day, but once the club got themselves into gear they dominated Lazio and looked for the first time this season a team capable of challenging for a top-four spot. They immediately got back up again after Immobile's equaliser looked to have ruined all the home side's good work and once Kolarov put them back in front there was only going to be one winner.
Dzeko really seems to be in a funny mood. On more than one occasion he lost his rag with his teammates and at one point in the second half even refused to challenge for a ball that rolled right past his feet. Just one goal so far this season and huge chunks of matches without so much as a sight of goal has led to a funk that even for the derby couldn't snap. Fingers crossed the team's upturn in form brings the best out of him.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Things couldn't have gone much better for Eusebio Di Francesco, all told. The coach seems to have finally ditched his beloved 4-3-3 for a 4-2-3-1 in order to get the best out of Javier Pastore, and he reacted well to the Argentine suffering a calf injury after just half an hour, putting on the decisive Pellegrini, and sticking with the new formation. Hopefully this will be the win that will banish the doubters.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Robin Olsen, 7 -- Made one super save from Immobile in the first half, but after that had little to do.
DF Davide Santon, 7 -- Followed up his excellent debut start midweek with another fine display in a hugely important game for his side.
DF Kostas Manolas, 8 -- Excellent. Covered everything and won just about every one-on-one battle.
DF Federico Fazio, 6 -- Beaten far too easily by Immobile to the ball before the equaliser, but made up with a stonking header.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 7 -- Was really all over the place in the first half, but livened up as the match went on and gets extra points for celebrating his goal against his former club.
MF Daniele De Rossi, 7 -- Was given a moving standing ovation when subbed, and rightly so.
MF Steven N'Zonzi, 6 -- Kept things ticking over in midfield, but nothing spectacular.
MF Alessandro Florenzi, 7 -- Played at right wing, a position he grew up playing, he was a little terrier.
MF Javier Pastore, 7 -- Looked very much at home in behind Dzeko, probing and linking with midfield and wingers. A shame he had to leave the field.
MF Stephan El Shaarawy, 6 -- His persistence was crucial for the opener but far too often he was wasteful in possession.
FW Edin Dzeko, 5 -- Did the bare minimum at times. Really needs to get his chin up and start battling again.
MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, 8 -- Scored a cheeky opener and laid on the third with a wonderful cross. His best display in a Roma shirt.
MF Bryan Cristante, 6 -- Solid but unspectacular in place of De Rossi.
DF Juan Jesus, N/R -- Had very little to do as a late substitute.