Our columnist takes a look at the first win of the campaign for Betty Bavagnoli's side, as changes off the bench made a decisive difference...
Roma Women beat Pink Bari 2-0 on Sunday to earn their first win of the 2020-21 season.
Andressa Alves and Paloma Lazaro scored in the second half to ensure Roma returned to winning ways, after their draw with Sassuolo in the season opener the week before.
It took some time for Roma to go through the gears and, while the Giallorosse are clearly capable of better performances, it was important for them to get that first win of the new campaign on the board.
The win was no less than they deserved, either, as much of the action took place in the opposition half. The only reason the win was not more convincing was because the Pink Bari defence often stayed alert to the danger, snuffing out attacks before they became clear-cut chances.
After going in front, though, Roma managed the game well, and continued to pose more of a threat than their opponents.
Here are the key factors that ensured Roma won the match.
In the first half, Roma had put a lot of pressure on their opponents, but struggled to find an opening.
As the game progressed after the break, they were at risk of continuing in the same fashion. It started to look like they might be heading for another frustrating draw.
However, Annamaria Serturini then stepped up to spark Roma’s attack into life again.
The winger had been one of the most positive aspects of the game up to that point, looking to make an impact in her first start of the season.
Just after the break, she had gone close with a volley from outside the box, only to see it blocked by a defender. But in the 66th minute, Serturini had an even more inspirational moment.
The Italian found a pocket of space inside the Pink Bari half, feigning to line up a shot before skipping past the helpless defender instead.
Having gained even more room, Serturini then let fly with a left-footed strike from the edge of the box. It smashed against the crossbar; Serturini was a fraction away from giving Roma the lead.
It was the chance they needed to convince themselves that they were close to finally finding a breakthrough. Indeed, less than two minutes later, Roma won a penalty, from which Andressa converted.
After a strong but somewhat frustrating start to the second half, Serturini had given Roma the sense of belief they needed. As soon as her effort had struck the bar, the tide really turned in Roma’s favour.
The major difference between Roma’s first and second half performances was how they created more chances in the latter section of the game.
Pivotal to that was the introduction of Paloma Lazaro at half-time.
Lazaro had made an impression in her club debut a week earlier, scoring just 20 minutes in against Sassuolo. However, a knock sustained during the week meant she was unable to start against Pink Bari.
Lazaro made it on for the second half, though – and made an instant impression.
The Spanish striker was on the end of Roma’s first big chance of the second half, reacting well after a corner less than two minutes after coming on, before stabbing her effort just wide.
As the game passed the hour mark, Lazaro went close again, heading just over from close range.
And as Roma built on the pressure generated from those chances, Lazaro drew a foul in the box to win a penalty in the 68th minute. Andressa made no mistake to give Roma the lead.
Then, shortly before the full-time whistle, Lazaro continued her fine start to life at Roma by getting her second goal in two games.
After some great work by fellow substitute Andrine Hegerberg, who expertly cut the ball back into the path of the striker, Lazaro slid to reach the ball before her opponents, sending it into the bottom corner.
Lazaro has become the first player to score in each of her first two appearances for Roma Women; she is making a big difference in attack.
Betty Bavagnoli used her substitutes to maximum effect to help put Roma on the front foot – and to keep them there once they had taken the lead.
Her decision to replace Lindsey Thomas with Lazaro at half-time was an inspired one. The chances had not been flowing for last season’s top scorer, so Bavagnoli gave her a rest and sent her summer signing on instead.
Lazaro had the desired effect, getting on the ball often and coming close with a number of chances – before her decisive roles in both goals.
Bavagnoli also showed her intelligence when taking Andressa off for Hegerberg just moments after the former had scored. It was the Brazilian’s first start of the season, so her coach managed her workload well by not asking her to stay on for the whole game.
Hegerberg was another useful player to introduce to the game, as she made an impression in midfield. Getting on the ball frequently, the Norwegian capped off a positive cameo with an early contender for assist of the season.
Bringing the ball down from the air, Hegerberg picked out the opportune moment to send the ball across to Lazaro, threading it between two defenders, before the striker doubled the lead.
Both substitutes had combined to ensure the result was a positive one for Roma.
While the club were playing at Trigoria rather than Stadio Tre Fontane, this was their first home fixture of 2020-21.
And in gaining the three points, Roma ensured they won their first home game of a Serie A Femminile season for the first time ever.
In their debut campaign, Roma had lost to Juventus when they first hosted a match, while last year, Milan claimed a victory at Stadio Tre Fontane in the season opener. But this time, it was a positive start at home.
That should give Roma confidence and something to build from. They kept persevering when other teams may have faded, and ensured they maintained their unbeaten start to the season.
In fact, the last time Roma tasted defeat was way back in January, when Milan produced a late turnaround to win 3-2. That remains Roma’s only loss of 2020.
Hence, between the premature end of last season and the start of this one, Roma are now on an eight-game unbeaten run. It’s their best ever spell of successive results, overtaking the seven-game run they embarked upon between December 2018 and January 2019 in their first season.
After such a long break, Roma are still finding their rhythm, but the results suggest they have picked up from where they left off.
They will now be hoping to continue their positive spark of momentum in their next game, when they take on Empoli away.
Follow Samuel on Twitter: @SamBanno1