Roma picked up their first win of the Europa League group stage on Thursday with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Astra Giurgiu at the Stadio Olimpico.
Kevin Strootman’s early finish set the Giallorossi on their way against the Romanian champions, before Federico Fazio’s first goal for the club doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time.
An own goal from Fabricio moments after the break effectively wrapped up the result, with Mohamed Salah’s sublime finish – after a brilliant team move – ultimately completing the scoring.
The result means Roma go top of Group E, albeit after just two games, following Austria Wien’s goalless draw with Viktoria Plzen.
The Giallorossi went into the game as favourites given the stature of the two sides but it was the visitors who threatened first – as Alisson was forced into a sprawling block to deny Nicoara grabbing an early goal.
After 15 minutes, however, the hosts were in front. It was Strootman who grabbed it, the Dutchman arriving at the far post to turn in Francesco Totti’s deceptive free-kick.
The veteran – 40 on Tuesday – was instrumental throughout the match, and was vital to the hosts doubling their advantage too. It came on the stroke of half-time, as his powerful free-kick blasted off the bar via the goalkeeper, only for Fazio to win the goalmouth scramble to turn the rebound home.
If the result was in any doubt at that point then it surely wasn’t soon after the restart, when Perotti’s cross was unfortunately turned into his own net by Astra defender Fabrizio.
The scoring would then be finished less than ten minutes later, with the best goal of the night. Salah was the finisher – flicking home first-time with aplomb – while Totti was again the provider, with a typical scooped ball over the top that created the chance. But along the way six other players touched the ball, a team move that would surely have pleased the coach.
In the remaining 30 minutes the hosts created a flurry of chances but further goals would not be forthcoming, despite the best efforts of Totti, Leandro Paredes and Juan Manuel Iturbe.
Nevertheless, Spalletti will have been content with the result ahead of Sunday’s big league encounter with Inter Milan.
Luciano Spalletti promised some rotation for the game and was as good as his word - still managing to spring something of a surprise with his attacking lineup.
Juan Iturbe and Francesco Totti both started in an adventurous formation that saw Mohamed Salah feature as the main striker, with Diego Perotti operating from the flank.
Alisson continued in goal - as he did in the competition opener against Viktoria Plzen - while Juan Jesus started at left-back, meaning a chance for Bruno Peres to switch to his natural right-back role.
Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas paired in in the centre of defence, as Spalletti continues to mold that partnership.
5’ – Nicoara wriggles free behind the defence but Alisson, at the third attempt, turns the danger away for a corner.
8’ – Perotti’s cross is headed away by the defender under pressure from Salah. Moments later Totti’s delivery has to be shepherded out by the right-back.
15’ – GOAL! Roma lead! Iturbe is fouled at wide, and from Totti’s deep free-kick Strootman meets it at the back post to turn home! 1-0!
30’ – Totti booked. Foul on Teixeira. Soon after Teixeira fires well over from distance
45’ – GOAL! Fazio doubles Roma’s advantage with his first competitive goal – bundling home after Totti’s powerful free-kick is palmed on to the bar by the goalkeeper! 2-0!
47’ – GOAL! Roma make the result certain as Fabricio turns Perotti’s cross into his own net! 3-0!
51’ – Iturbe turns his man and flashes wide from distance.
54’ – GOAL! Beautiful goal Salah! The Egyptian rounds off a fantastic team move, as Totti’s chipped ball is flicked home past the goalkeeper first-time! 4-0!
64' - Substitute Nainggolan heads narrowly wide...
74’ – So many shots for Roma! Totti’s free-kick is turned wide, then both Paredes and Iturbe see powerful volleys blocked – before finally Paredes flashes narrowly wide from 25 yards!
81' - Alisson produces a fine save to deny Alibec after a rare Astra counter.
88' - Close for Iturbe, but the defender nicks the ball off him just as he was about to shoot.
Key match statistics
Social media reaction
"We have to focus on ourselves. The best response was to play well and win. We did both. That's what the fans and the coach wanted."
"We have ability and we know the team well. Perhaps we’ve now lost that habit of consistently breaking the defensive line and we need to rediscover that. Plus we created a situation we can work on."
Attention now turns back to Serie A action for the Giallorossi, as they host Inter Milan in a mouth-watering clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. The game kicks off at 20:45 CEST.
After that there is a brief break for international action, with the team resuming Serie A action with an away visit to Napoli on Saturday 15 October.
ROMA 4-0 ASTRA GIURGIU
Goalscorers: Strootman (15'), Fazio (45'), Fabricio (o.g. 47'), Salah (54')
Roma: Alisson; Peres (Florenzi), Fazio, Manolas, Jesus; Paredes, Strootman (Gerson); Iturbe, Totti, Perotti; Salah (Nainggolan).
Astra Giurgiu: Lung; Lazic (Nicolae), Geraldo Alves, Fabricio, Morais; Mansaly (Lovin), Seto, Sapunaru; Texeira, Alibec, Nicoara (Budescu).