Our columnist runs the rule over a fifth straight home league win for Betty Bavagnoli's side...
Roma Women kept up their recent momentum by earning a 2-0 win over San Marino Academy on Saturday.
Going into the game as heavy favourites, but knowing their opponents would be putting up a fight due to their precarious position in the table, Roma ultimately had to work hard to ensure they claimed all three points.
Fortunately, a familiar combination of goals from Annamaria Serturini and Agnese Bonfantini ensured there was to be no upset.
Here were the decisive factors in ensuring Roma got the job done.
While Roma didn’t have as many clear-cut chances as they may have liked, those that did come their way often involved Serturini.
The leading scorer extended her tally by giving Roma the lead in the 21st minute. Ghosting in at the far post, she latched on to a cross from Lindsey Thomas on the opposite flank and made no mistake with her finish.
The goal demonstrated the attributes that have enabled Serturini to score at the high rate she does for Roma. Timing her run well and showing the intelligence to arrive in the right space, she left herself with a simple task by the time the ball arrived at her feet.
Serturini’s influence did not stop there, either. Across the whole match, she created four chances – double the amount that her most productive teammates managed – and forced a great save from Gloria Ciccioli in the last 10 minutes.
In addition, she made three successful crosses – another team high – as she aimed to return the favour for the manner in which she had scored her goal.
Unfortunately, none of those led to an assist, but Serturini had thankfully taken on the goalscoring responsibility herself, setting Roma on their way to a win.
Roma had to dig deep to ward off any threats of an equaliser posed by San Marino, but that work paid off when Bonfantini doubled the lead in stoppage time.
Having come on as a substitute, the winger made her mark on the game by scoring her first Serie A goal of the season.
Set up by fellow substitute Emma Severini, who picked her out with a well-weighted pass, Bonfantini closed in on goal and slotted the ball home.
It was an important moment for her, as she has not had as many opportunities in the team this season in comparison to the previous two.
This was a reminder of her strongest qualities, though, as she got a goal that meant only Serturini has ever scored more for the Giallorosse than her.
And with less than a minute of stoppage time left when she put the ball away, Bonfantini rendered any fading hopes San Marino had of a comeback obsolete.
When planning for a game against a team hovering above the relegation zone, Betty Bavagnoli could have considered resting some of her regular starters.
However, with no games on the horizon for another three weeks, it made sense for Roma to retain as strong a line up as possible.
Bavagnoli has always favoured such an approach, showing respect to all opponents and ensuring each result is earned. This seems to have a positive influence on the squad’s mentality, as the belief that no wins can be taken for granted is instilled into each player – ensuring they perform with the right attitude throughout.
That was the case on Saturday, when the likes of Serturini, Thomas and Vanessa Bernauer all played important roles – as well as the ever-solidifying combination of Elena Linari and Allyson Swaby at the back – for the whole 90 minutes.
In fact, Bavagnoli waited until the 70th minute to make any changes at all, when Bonfantini entered the action in a double substitution. Obviously, that switch would come to pay off in the closing stages of the game – but it was the overall measured approach that inspired the victory.
As their strong form at home continued, Roma made it five wins in a row as the hosts in Serie A – which is a club record.
Roma have a perfect record at home in 2021, having seen off Napoli, Sassuolo, Empoli, Inter and now San Marino in the league. There have also been Coppa Italia wins over Florentia and Juventus at Stadio Tre Fontane in that time.
Roma’s two upcoming games in April will both be staged away, but when they return to their home venue, their record will be put to the test by the league’s top two sides, Milan and Juventus, who will be the first two visitors in May.
As the team gears up for tougher challenges, their dominant form on their own turf is proving to be the foundations of their ambition.