Roma’s second half charge denies Juventus’ early scudetto celebrations.
Coming into this match Juventus were looking to clinch the league title early. All the Bianconeri had to do was avoid losing in the Stadio Olimpico to win the title, and have the opportunity to focus their efforts on the remaining competitions.
Roma on the other hand, were looking to keep their slim title hopes alive. As well as this, they were looking to stay in the automatic Champions League qualification spot ahead of Napoli.
Anything other than a win and both these objectives would have been unlikely. Juventus were coming off the back of progression to the Champions League final, and in the league a draw to Torino. Roma’s last two games resulted in a win against AC Milan and a loss to rivals Lazio.
Right from the first whistle, the game was played at a quick tempo, with Roma pressing high up on the Juve defence. Roma sent the ball into the box numerous times and Juve did just enough to keep it out.
Having dealt with this early trouble, Juve travelled down the other end of the pitch and won themselves a corner. The ball broke loose on the edge of the box and Asamoah gathered. He swung his left boot at it and cracked the ball off the post. The game continued in this back and forth manner, with chances few and far between and both teams putting in hard tackles. Higuain had a half chance for Juve and De Rossi couldn’t get his head on the ball from a Roma free kick.
20 minutes into the game and it was still in the balance, with neither side able to make much of their opportunities. Sturaro received a ball out wide, and played a nice high ball into the box. Higuain latched onto the pass unmarked and laid the ball to Lemina, who touched the ball into the net past Szczesny. 1-0 to the champions, and it looked like the Bianconeri were on course to celebrate their scudetto victory early.
Juve’s lead lasted mere minutes, however, as Roma won a corner. Manolas leaped into the air and headed towards goal. Buffon made the initial save, and pushed it back out to De Rossi. Immediately, Giallorossi captain hit towards goal, and forced another save. Second time of asking, De Rossi put it away. After 25 minutes, it was 1-1 in the Stadio Olimpico.
This goal led to an extended period of Roma possession and allowed them to gain a foothold in the match. Juve’s defence soaked up the pressure well. They then slowly made their way out of their half after managing to break up Roma’s momentum. The game balanced out once more and approached half time. The referee blew the whistle and the teams headed to the dressing rooms.
The score, 1-1, reflected the game well. Both teams had periods on top of the game, but Roma had the better chances. The intensity of the game was felt throughout, with strong challenges being made.
The second half began, slower than the first, with the ball breaking down often. Fazio and De Rossi picked up cards within the first 5 minutes for late challenges. There hadn’t been much to talk about in the second half until the 56th minute, when Nainggolan played the ball to El Shaarawy on the edge of the box. The Italian cut inside, and curled the ball along the ground into the far bottom corner. A slight deflection from Lichtsteiner’s boot gave the ball a bizarre spin, and it rolled into the goal. 2-1 advantage Roma.
From this point onwards, Roma picked up the pace and took over the game. 10 minutes after the second goal, Roma picked up a third. Salah picked out Nainggolan’s run into the box. He controlled it with one touch, and buried it with his second into the back of the net. Juve’s title celebrations were put on hold. Roma found themselves with a 3-1 lead with less than half an hour remaining.
For the remaining time, Juventus threw everything they had at Roma, whose defence held strong. Dybala came on for Juve to try and create something, but nothing more than a few half chances came. There was one appeal for a penalty for Juventus, but by that stage, in the 92nd minute, it was far too late to have an impact. Roma defended valiantly and saw out the remaining Bianconeri attacks. The final whistle blew, and the Giallorossi kept their spot in 2nd on the table.
Juventus now need to beat Crotone next week to win the title, which is after their midweek cup final clash against Lazio on Wednesday. Roma, to have any chance of winning the scudetto must win their remaining games, starting with Chievo Verona next Saturday.
Man of the Match
My man of the match was Radja Nainggolan, Roma’s third goalscorer. He covered lots of ground in the 78 minutes he played and came out on top in the battle of the midfield. Throughout the game he hassled Juventus’ midfield and attackers. Got himself a goal, and made a brilliant contribution to the game.