Roma bounced back from their last minute defeat to Atalanta last weekend with a morale boosting win which saw them jump back into 2nd and close the gap on leaders Juventus after their shock defeat away to Genoa earlier in the day.
Pescara went into this game on the back of five defeats on the bounce having scored only one goal in the last month and with one win all season (an administrative handed result). Former Lazio player and World Cup winner, Massimo Oddo, returned to the Stadio Olimpico knowing a win for his side would see Pescara level on points with Empoli in the safety zone. Meanwhile, Roma bounced back from their defeat last weekend to Atalanta with a win in the Europa League during the week. They knew that a win here would bring them right back into the race for Lo Scudett0, only four points behind the Bianconeri, level with AC Milan. History was not on the Gialorossi’s side, having not won their last three home games against Pescara but they were clear favourites to win this one, having gone into the game on the back of nine consecutive wins at home in Serie A.
Pescara had a terrible start to the match as the returning Bahebeck pulled his hamstring only three minutes in which forced Oddo into an early change, bringing Caprari on. They soon had a warning sign from Roma as Salah was put through on goal by Dzeko but the Egyptian International couldn’t get the connection he needed.
In the seventh minute, Pescara’s poor start to the game was punished. A Roma corner was worked short by Salah to Perotti who crossed the ball into the area for Dzeko to hold off his marker and sweep home. It was the Bosnian International’s first goal in three Serie A games, his 11th of the season.
Roma didn’t let up the pressure on their struggling opponents and got their second goal three minutes later. Another cross from Perotti, this time on the left flank having cut the ball onto his right foot and dinking it in perfectly for the Dzeko to sweep home in the middle of the six yard box.
It took until the 14th minute for Pescara to get anywhere near the Roma goal, such was the Capital Clubs dominance. Caprari did well to force his way into the penalty box but his low ball across the face of the goal was miss-timed, running behind Pepe who was waiting for a tap in in the middle. Pepe registered an effort on target, albeit straight at Szczesny. The former Roma and Juve winger did well to adjust his body to steer Crescenzi’s cross at goal but it lacked sufficient power. Pescara were finally showing signs of ambition after a disastrous start to the match.
However, as Pescara looked to break the goal scoring duck, space opened up for Roma. Quick incisive passing and movement down the right found Nainggolan in the inside right position inside the area but shot was straight at Bizzarri. Suddenly the game was end to end with Roma looking to kill the game off with a third goal before the break. It was Pescara who almost grabbed the all important third goal of the game. Benali got on the end after great give and go down the right which saw Zampano cut the ball back just outside the six yard box but Benali’s shot was straight at Szczesny.
A counter attack from Roma saw Salah running at the Pescara back-line who backed off and backed off. His left footed shot was blocked and fell into the path of Nainggolan who tried to curl it into the top right corner of the net but Bizzarri did well to tip it over for a corner. As the first half was coming to a close it was Pescara who were pushing, forcing a string of free kicks from dangerous positions but failing to get anything on target.
Dzeko almost grabbed his hat-trick on the stroke of half time. Another great cross with his right foot on the left from Perotti found the giant Dzeko in the middle but his header sailed just wide of the goal.
At the start of the second half Oddo brought on Verre for Vittruini in an attacking change. It looked a good move as it was Pescara who asked the questions early on in the second half as they moved the ball from defence to attack at a much higher tempo. It resulted in the best chance of the night for Pescara. Caprari escaped his marker from a throw on the right wing. Running into the area his low cross found Pepe but his shot was well tipped away for a corner.
Pescara were pushing now. The sub, Verre, forced another fine save from Szczesny before they finally got the goal their play deserved. More penetration down the right hand side found Pepe in the inside right position and his left footed shot was drilled into the bottom left hand corner. Roma had taken their foot off the gas in the second half and Pescara’s first goal in 5 games brought them right back into the game.
The goal seemed to have woke Roma up as they put the pressure back on Pescara. Nainggolan connected cleanly with a strike from range which sailed just wide. It proved to be his last contribution to the game as he was replaced by Daniele De Rossi, making his 400th appearance in Serie A having Debuted in 2003.
Just as Pescara got themselves back into the game, Cresenzi brought Perotti down in the area at the byline, tripping his trailing leg. Perotti stepped up to take it himself. Just like he did against Atalanta, the Argentine cooly slotted the ball home, sending Bizzarri the wrong way, restoring Roma’s two goal cushion in the seventieth minute.
At the restart, the only man who has made more Serie A appearances for Roma than De Rossi made his way onto the pitch as Gerson was replaced by Francesco Totti.
However, two minutes later, the game swung once more. A cross from the left was headed away but only into the path of the waiting Caprari who met the ball sweetly into the back of the net. After struggling to score one goal in a month, Pescara had two goals in 80 minutes!
A Totti slide through pass opened a chance for Salah but the angle was tight. His shot to the near post was dealt with well by Bizzarri who parried out for corner.
Roma were looking to put the game to bed once again. Great link up play down right hand side found the ever running Salah who played the ball across the D for Dzeko who dummied for the on rushing left footed strike of Strootman. It was struck really clena, hard and low but it was gathered well by Bizzarri.
Two minutes from time the Roma faithful had their hearts in their mouths as Pescara almost had the equaliser they sought as they broke with four against three. Pepe cut inside and laid the ball off to the right inside the penalty area for Caprari but his angled shot was blocked away for a corner.
It proved to be the last chance of the game with Roma doing just enough to grab the three points they so desperately craved to put themselves right back into the thick of the title race. They will need to step it up a notch or two for their next game…the derby against Lazio. Meanwhile, Pescara will be cursing their terrible start to the game but there was enough in their second half performance for them to build on in their fight against relegation. The games don’t get any easier, as they face high flying Atalanta next.
Roma: Szczesny; Peres, Emerson, Fazio, Rudiger; Gerson (Totti), Strootman, Salah, Nainggolan (De Rossi), Perotti; Dzeko.
Pescara: Bizzarri; Vitturini (Verre), Zuparic, Biraghi, Memushaj; Brugman, Zampano, Crescenzi, Benali (Cristante) Pepe; Bahebeck (Caprari).
Ref: Massimiliano Irrati.