Our columnist runs the rule over Saturday's impressive win over another Serie A rival...
Roma Women geared themselves up for their huge Coppa Italia clash against Juventus next week by beating Fiorentina 2-1 on their return to Serie A action on Saturday.
After a three-week break, it took some time for Roma to find their rhythm, and they fell behind in the first half. However, in that same 45 minutes they hit the crossbar on no fewer than three occasions - as they showed they were growing into the game.
The reward for all that pressure came in the second half, when a penalty from Manuela Giugliano and a low aerial strike from Annamaria Serturini completed the turnaround.
Having won all three of their Serie A games between the two legs of the Juventus semi-final, Roma will go into next week’s match in good form.
Here are the most important factors from the Fiorentina game that ensured that was the case.
She didn’t score either of Roma’s goals, but Agnese Bonfantini played a crucial role in both of them.
It was the right winger’s burst into the box that drew the foul leading to the penalty, and her looping cross that set up Serturini for the winner.
Bonfantini has been in and out of the team this season due to the form of other players, but this was her best display of the year. She was decisive, determined and dangerous.
The Italian was responsible for two of the times Roma hit the woodwork, once with her left foot and once with her right. That ability to attack from either angle was a major aspect of Bonfantini’s performance and, indeed, something she has always excelled at.
Much of the danger came down Roma’s right channel, where Bonfantini was backed up by Angelica Soffia. Together, the pair were influential in how the team attacked, with the full-back often manoeuvring past opponents and combining with the winger ahead of her.
Once Bonfantini gained possession, Roma regularly looked likely to cause problems for Fiorentina.
Less than four minutes separated the two goals Roma scored to turn the game on its head.
Shortly after Giugliano’s penalty levelled things up, Roma built on their momentum with what proved to be the winner.
Bonfantini’s searching delivery soared over the Fiorentina keeper to land at Serturini’s feet. She connected while the ball was still in the air to apply a controlled finish.
Getting that goal so soon after equalising was important for Roma, who were eager to make the most of the pressure they were building. They didn’t allow Fiorentina any time to realise what had hit them.
Intrinsically, the goal was another example of Serturini’s fine technique. Finishing with her left foot, she stood up in an important moment and directed the ball to where Roma needed it to be.
With the advantage now earned, Roma were able to see out the rest of the game confidently.
As stated, Bonfantini had an important part to play in both goals – and that was by design.
She has only started half of Roma’s league games this season, so was not a guaranteed name on the teamsheet. But with Andressa Alves not available for selection, Betty Bavagnoli chose Bonfantini to take her place.
The decision allowed Lindsey Thomas to take up more of a free role, supporting Paloma Lazaro. It was left to Bonfantini to be the spark out wide.
The confidence she displayed with her sharp movement to win the penalty was just one example of the success of that strategy. Even better was the way she managed to get plenty of height on her cross for the winning goal, which was not easy to accomplish from the angle and speed she was running at.
Bonfantini has made her case for further starts in the final few weeks of the season.
This win was the first time Roma have come from behind to claim all three points in a Serie A game since doing so against Napoli in their first league match of 2021. In fact, that was the only other occasion this season in which Roma have overturned a negative scoreline to win.
Building up resilience against tougher teams as well as the ability to dominate weaker ones that has been displayed in some other matches recently, Roma are equipping themselves well for games of greater magnitude.
Of all the times Roma have earned a comeback win in Serie A, the one over Fiorentina featured the longest gap between the first goal they conceded and the moment they equalised. It took the team 45 minutes to level things up.
It proves that their patience paid off, as in between that time, Roma kept plugging away and had various chances. Unperturbed by the narrow margins denying them an equaliser in the first half, their approach bore fruit midway through the second half.
Once that goal arrived, Roma were able to quickly turn things around completely.
The improvements in their mentality are clear to see and that will equip them well for the next big match, just a matter of days away.