Two minutes after giving his side the lead with a sublime finish, Erik Lamela had put his side two goals ahead as he met Pablo Osvaldo’s cross at the back post. Roma were fully on top and were putting in a phenomenal performance against Francesco Guidolin’s men. Udinese were about to be hammered. Or so it seemed.
Although certainly one of the most exciting teams in Europe to watch, they are infinitely frustrating and slack in defence. Consistency is something which has eluded the capital club over the past few years and, although it is still early in the project, Zdenek Zeman has had no joy in establishing it so far this season.
Zeman’s return has seen Francesco Totti become the heart and soul of the team once again. The club has, in one way or another, always revolved around El Capitano, but this is the first season for some time in which it has done so on the field. The 36-year-old has thrived in his deeper role at Roma. The precision, creativity and timing of his passes have created some wonderful chances for i Lupi , many of which have been converted in superb style. His link up play with Osvaldo has been incredible and it has given Roma an extra spark which makes them enchanting to watch. Totti was key once again on Sunday. The new attacking potency of this side is simply captivating, but the weakness of the defence, or non-existence of it, makes them incredibly weak and has proved to be their downfall on many occasions. Although they did well to come back from a two goal deficit to beat Genoa the previous week, they should never have conceded such sloppy goals in the first place. Also, they had surrendered such an advantage against Bologna in matchday three and left with zero points, having lost 3-2, due to their own defensive incompetence as opposed to the strength of their opponents.
Despite enjoying a two goal lead and dominating the game, there was always the feeling that, especially with Antonio Di Natale on the field, Udinese were still capable of leaving with at least a point.
Just ten minutes after conceding a second goal, Maurizio Domizzi pounced on a loose ball headed down by Roma’s own Pablo Osvaldo and slammed it home to halve the deficit.
Udinese felt the buzz. Roma’s ultra-attacking style left massive holes in defence which had left them vulnerable, all Udinese had to do was hit with speed and sooner or later a goal would come. Roma made it to the break with a one goal advantage, but five minutes after the restart it was 2-2 as Udinese talisman Di Natale popped up with a goal.
Guidolin’s side secured the ‘best comeback of the week’ award with just two minutes remaining. Roma burst forward, looking to steal the three points but they ceded possession in the final third and the Zebrette hit them on the counter-attack and Roberto Pereyra burst into the box but was brought down inside the box. The referee took a long time to think about it and after a word in his hear from one of his assistants, he pointed to the spot.
The resultant spot-kick nothing short of phenomenal. Di Natale stepped up and chipped it towards goal. Maarten Stekelenburg was helpless as the ball bounced into the back of the net. Roma were humiliated. Another league surrendered. Another defeat for Roma, but a vital win for Udinese.
Elsewhere in Serie A
Whilst Roma continue to struggle, Juventus are still sitting pretty at the top of Serie A as they triumphed 1-0 away to Catania this weekend, aided by a controversial refereeing performance.
Despite dominating the play and having the majority of the chances, Juventus were lucky not to fall behind to the Sicilian’s. Gianluigi Buffon’s 500th Seria A appearance was almost spoiled by Gonzalo Bergessio who struck home after Spiolo’s flick came back off the post. However, referee Andre Girvasconi was feeling sentimental and decided to give Gigi a second chance at keeping a clean sheet, giving offside after consulting his linesman, despite Bergessio appearing to be level.
To rub salt in the Catanian wounds, Arturo Vidal sealed the 3 points in the 57th minute, tapping in the rebound after the world-class Nicky Bendtner, who was marginally offside, had his shot parried.
It is now 48 Serie A games unbeaten for Juve who also ended Catania’s unbeaten home record in the process. Although victories are coming left, right and centre for the Old Lady, next weekend’s match at home to Inter is one that they will not be able to take lightly.
Strammacioni’s side have finally found some form and made it seven wins in a row with a 3-1 victory away to Bologna, with Esteban Cambiasso putting the icing on the cake sweeping home after a sumptuous passing move. Inter briefly moved up to second in the table until Napoli’s victory this evening against Chievo, Marik Hamsik scoring the only goal.
Milan picked up 3 points at home to Genoa thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy bagging the winner against his former club Genoa. After a dire start to the season, Allegri is looking to improve on Milan’s fortunes by adding to his squad; Royston Drenthe is within his sights, apparently. That’ll help.