Abraham and Veretout Set Mourinho’s Roma Off to a Good Start

Jose Mourinho’s comeback to Serie A was a winning one as Tammy Abraham and Jordan Veretout helped Roma and the Special One to grab the first three points of their Italian campaign.

The Frenchman scored two goals to Fiorentina to propitiate a convincing 3-1 win in the first campionato matchday but it was the former Chelsea forward to make a stronger impact. Abraham served two assists and showed multiple glimpses of his talent to a Stadio Olimpico that finally re-opened its doors to supporters.

For his second Serie A debut, the Special One lined up new joiners Rui Patricio between the sticks, Matias Vina at left back, and Tammy Abraham to spearhead the attack. He also welcomed back Italian starlet Nicolò Zaniolo from the start.

Fiorentina’s new coach Vincenzo Italiano answered with a 4-3-3 formation where transfer market target Dusan Vlahovic was supported by José Callejon and new signing Nico Gonzalez. 

However, Italiano’s plans were disrupted after just 17 minutes as goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski saw red in an attempt to stop Abraham. The former Chelsea striker was picked with a perfectly timed long ball and forced the goalie to a desperate slide tackle that resulted in the referee waving a red card at him. Callejon had to make room for his backup Pietro Terracciano. 

With a one-man advantage, Mourinho’s troops quickly gained control of the field. It was Henrikh Mhkitaryan – Roma’s best man in the past season – to open the scoring on 26 minutes, picking up from where he’d left off by scoring his fifth goal in a row for the Giallorossi

The Armenian was the finisher but much of the credit went to Abraham again, who set him free to shot with a superb pass past Fiorentina’s defensive line.   

The Giallorossi could have had their second when a long-range left-foot shot from Zaniolo called Terracciano to action but the Viola‘s backup goalkeeper was alert.

Fiorentina were alive, however, and went close to draw level when Erick Pulgar set Giacomo Bonaventura free to penetrate into Roma’s area from the right flank. The former Milan man found Rui Patricio on his way and the score remained set at 1-0 at half time. 

The second half opened with an episode that could have potentially reopened the game as, on 51 minutes, Zaniolo knocked Gonzalez down and was booked for the second time. The young starlet thus embellished his Serie A comeback with an expulsion. 

Fiorentina’s taking advantage of the situation was immediate: Vlahovic received the ball from Gonzalez, spun on himself, and volleyed it towards Roma’s goal, finding once again Rui Patricio equal to the task.      

The Portuguese goalkeeper couldn’t do anything, however, when Nikola Milenkovic received the ball from Pulgar and, left alone by Bryan Cristante, whipped it into the back of the net from point-blank range to make it 1-1. A great way for the Serbian defender to celebrate his recent contract renewal. 

Fiorentina’s joy was short-lasting. Two minutes later, with the match now on fire, Abraham’s header from a Mkhitaryan cross made the crossbar rattle. It was an omen that heralded Roma’s second which came soon after. Abraham’s service for Jordan Veretout was perfect: All the Frenchman had to do was push the ball past the goal line and wait for referee Luca Pairetto to complete an endless VAR check to rule out a possible offside position.

On 78 minutes, Roma’s other debutant Eldor Shomurodov – who had replaced Abraham just after the Giallorossi‘s second goal – served Veretout another sublime assist, making it child’s play for him to score again to his former club.

Veretout refrained from celebrating as an act of respect towards the Viola, but his brace got the game done and dusted for the Wolves. After a convincing win in Trabzon in their Conference League debut, Roma also started their domestic adventure on the right foot.

The Special One’s hand is already visible and Abraham’s impact was enough to make the Giallorossi fans forget Edin Dzeko’s departure. Good times may be ahead in Rome.



August 22, 2021 – Serie A 2021-22 Round 1

SCORERS: 26′ Mkhitaryan (R), 59′ Milenkovic (F), 64′ Veretout (R), 78′ Veretout (R)

ROMA (4-2-3-1): Rui Patricio; Karsdorp, Ibanez, Mancini, Viña; Cristante, Veretout (87′ Bove); Zaniolo, Pellegrini (84′ Carles Perez), Mkhitaryan (84′ El Shaarawy); Abraham (69′ Shomurodov) (Fuzato, Boer, Reynolds, Kumbulla, Diawara, Calafiori, Darboe, Villar, Borja Mayoral) Coach: Mourinho
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Dragowski; Venuti (84′ Sottil), Milenkovic, Igor, Biraghi; Bonaventura (74′ Benassi), Pulgar, Maleh (46′ Castrovilli); Callejón (20′ Terracciano), Vlahovic, Nico Gonzalez (84′ Saponara) (Rosati, Martinez Quarta, Ranieri, Terzi, Bianco, Duncan, Kokorin) Coach: Italiano

REFEREE: Mr. Pairetto from Nichelino
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Pellegrini (R), Bonaventura, Pulgar (F); Red Card: Dragowski (F), Zaniolo (R); Added Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 4′