Sunday, June 16, 2024

Roma 2-1 Feyenoord (4-1 AET, 4-2 agg.): Talking points as Giallorossi deliver glorious Roman night

Roma emerged victorious from their double header against Feyenoord in the Europa League quarterfinals. Having lost the first leg in Rotterdam by 1-0, the Serie A side won the rematch by 2-1 to take the contest into extra time, before adding two goals more to secure a place in the semifinals.

It took an hour for things to start unraveling at the Stadio Olimpico, but a fierce battle broke out after Leonardo Spinazzola struck to break the deadlock and even out the aggregate score. Feyenoord struck back through Igor Paixao with just 10 minutes to go, and it seemed the guests from Netherlands would be the ones to end up on top at that point. Paulo Dybala then came off the bench and produced a piece of magic to restore Roma’s lead on the night, and the 90 minutes ended with no decision made on who would go through to the next round.

But in the first half of extra time, Roma struck twice more, with Stephan El Shaarawy (101′) and Lorenzo Pellegrini (109′) on target to put the matter beyond Feyenoord once and for all, and the misery of the visiting team was completed by a fully deserved straight red card for striker Santiago Gimenez in the final seconds.

Dybala the super-sub

Dybala entered the game in the 72nd minute, and his presence on the pitch was felt strongly until the final whistle of the second extra-time period. He was relentless, continuously weaving his net around the visitors’ box, and his goal, which came in the 89th minute, was indeed a beautiful mixture of skill and audacity, under pressure at an awkward angle.

In the relatively short time he spent on the pitch, the Argentina international took six shots and half of them went where they were supposed to, and he swung three crosses into the box. The Feyenoord defence really didn’t know how to deal with his quality, boosted to greater heights by his freshness when most of the players on both sides were starting to look tired.

Speaking after the game, head coach Jose Mourinho said the 29-year-old former Juventus forward has the quality to play for any team in the world, though if he wanted to feel the joy of playing football, he would find it in Rome.

Pellegrini redeemed

Pellegrini wasted a penalty and was subbed off at halftime in the first leg, and his performance there was a subject of much debate at criticism last week. This time, however, the 26-year-old played like a true captain when his team needed him most, completely redeeming himself in the eyes of the Giallorossi faithful.

Pellegrini was an influential player on the pitch right from the start, and he even came close to breaking the deadlock himself in the first half, forcing a very good save from Justin Bijlow in the Feyenoord goal. With seven shots, three on target, he managed to land the final goal of the match, having already assisted Dybala for his stunner.

In fact, when Pellegrini and Dybala both play the way they did after the latter came on from the bench, it’s hard to imagine a defence that wouldn’t be troubled at the thought of trying to stop them. Tammy Abraham also made an important late contribution, assisting El Shaarawy and Pellegrini for the final two goals.

Looking ahead

Roma’s situation in the Serie A has suddenly become much more complicated. The decision to deduct 15 point from Juventus has been reversed, and the Bianconeri have now jumped from seventh to third place, overtaking Mourinho’s team by three points and pushing them down to fourth.

The race to secure Champions League football for next season will be fierce.

Roma could, of course, achieve that goal by winning the Europa League. Now they’re in the semifinals, anything is possible, though the next obstacle comes in the form of an in-form Bayer Leverkusen, and the Bundesliga side certainly won’t be thinking differently.

As for Feyenoord, coach Arne Slot won’t have too much time to get his players’ heads around to the challenges of the Eredivisie, where they lead the way with an eight-point advantage over Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, with just five rounds remaining. With just a little bit of focus over the next month, they should have the title wrapped up soon.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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