Conti 8, Matri 23, 47, Acquafresca 38, Lazzari 88
De Rossi 18
A travel to the island of Sardinia has not been a happy hunting ground for i Lupi over the last two decades. They looked to have broken their duck last year as they lead 2-0 but they had not counted on two injury time goals from Cagliari. These two goals denied the Giallorossi their first victory against the Rossoblu since 1995 at the Stadio Sant’Elia, emphasing the task ahead of Claudio Ranieri’s men made even harder by an unconvincing home display two weeks prior against newly promoted Cesena.
Ranieri rung the changes, as expected, with the introduction of Marco Borriello to the attack replacing Mirko Vucinic who picked up a slight knock on international duty for Montenegro. This meant Borriello made his debut in the Roma shirt very much as a lone front man with Francesco Totti and Jeremy Menez for support.
Cagliari started the better, somewhat outplaying Roma at their own passing game in the centre of midfield. Another debutant, Paolo Castellini, failed to pressurise Andrea Cossu on Cagliari’s right and his cross led to a first corner for Pierpaolo Bisoli’s men. It was taken short, resulting in the ball popping out to Daniele Conti, son of Roma legend and director Bruno Conti, who finished sumptuously with a downward volley into the top right hand corner.
Despite this bad start for Roma they managed to equalise within 10 minutes with a simple header from Daniele De Rossi after an accurate corner from Totti, which was very much against the run of play. Just 11 minutes later, after a good save from Julio Sergio, Conti rushed into the box and Nicolas Burdisso recklessly fouled the 31 year old. A penalty was given and Burdisso was rightfully sent packing for his challenge on the Cagliari forward and Alessandro Matri coolly converted the penalty, sending Julio Sergio the wrong way.
It was all Cagliari at this point as Ranieri’s tactic of using Borriello as a target man was extremely ineffective. Roma were limited in terms of build up play and the aerial route was not suiting a side who usually pride themselves on slick passing to break down their opponents.
Two quick fire goals either side of half time effectively ended the contest. A powerful header from Acquafresca after good work from Davide Biondini and Cossu made it 3-1 and a free kick delivered by the influential Cossu found the head of Matri for his second of the game.
With Cagliari sitting back a little, Roma started to create some chances, but found Michael Agazzi in top form with smart saves from Borriello and Cassetti.
The contrast in managers was evident with Bisoli, who led Cesena to promotion to Serie A last year, hugging the touchline urging on his players as if the game was still 0-0 and his players responded in the fashion he seemed to be demanding through a late counter attacking move with an air of inevitability about it as Lazzari tapped in from close range.
A disjointed defence had been exposed mainly through the inexperience of Aleandro Rosi and Castellini as well as the rushed inclusion of Burdisso. Rosi’s attempted head butt on Cossu late in the game emphasised this area of concern for Ranieri and with the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich just three days away, the former Chelsea manager does not have a lot of time to get things right.
With two games gone, Roma should have been looking to have a minimum of four points from a possible six. Instead they find themselves with one point from six and a serious title challenge, even at this early stage, will be questioned by the Roma tifosi.