Edin Dzeko and Roma Reign Supreme in Braga Municipal Stadium

Paulo Fonseca’s Roma traveled to Portugal for their Europa League Round of 32 test after overtaking Juventus to claim the third place in the Serie A table. They came up against Braga, who have a similar placing in the Primeira Liga. The difference between the two sides was minimal as the Romans returned home with a 0-2 away victory.

Interestingly, for the second straight game, the Giallorossi scored in the fifth minute of the game. The Archbishops got behind thanks to a resurgent Eden Dzeko and could not claw their way back into the fixture. Borja Mayoral would double the lead in the 86th minute.

The visitors bossed the earlier exchanges, and their efforts were duly rewarded. After Rick Karsdorp had put too much force in his through ball, Leonardo Spinazzola learnt from his mistake. The Italy international’s service was on the money and sent Dzeko one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The Bosnian was always favored to score and did not disappoint with a strike into the bottom right corner.

Roma’s celebrations had hardly subsided that they received a setback two minutes later. Bryan Cristante fell to the ground and signaled he could not play any more. Bruno Peres was brought on, and the stoppage allowed Braga to compose themselves.

The hosts started to find their way back into the game with possession. However, they could not make anything concrete from it, and the best chances fell to Roma in the first half. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a good shot blocked while Pedro managed to hit the back of the net but was adjudged offside in the buildup.

Esgaio Sending Off and VAR Double Play

There was more action in the second half as both teams pressed on. Ricardo Esgaio was sent off in the 54th minute after receiving a caution for his second bookable offense. The already down Braga were looking at a humbling at home.

Roma should have doubled their lead after Henrikh Mkhitaryan belatedly hit the back of the net. The Giallorossi’s pressure had paid off, but VAR came to the Portuguese’s aide. Again, the effort was ruled offside. VAR was in the discussion again as Roma’s appeal for a penalty was reviewed but referee Istvan Kovacs sided with the hosts and decided against awarding a spot-kick.

It seemed as if the Italians search for a decisive goal would go unanswered, but Jordan Veretout had other plans. The French midfielder laid the ball off to Borja Mayoral, who had no difficulty sending it past Matheus in the Braga goal. Again, VAR was called into play. Roma players were understandably unhappy with the third check but would not complain after the decision came in their favor.

Braga’s lack of creativity cost them the result at the Braga Municipal Stadium. Coach Carlos Carvalhal will have to rethink his side’s plans for the return leg in Rome. With Benfica hot on their heels, their focus will be divided between Primeira Liga and Europa League.

Paulo Fonseca would be pleased with the away win, which all but ensures their progress into the Round of 16. Roma can focus on the Serie A as the fight for a top-four finish intensifies. The Giallorossi are one slip away that will allow the chasing pack to catch up with them on the points table.



February 18, 2021 – Europa League 2020-21 Round of 32

SCORERS: 5′ Dzeko, 86′ Borja Mayoral

BRAGA (4-3-3): Matheus, Esgalo, Tormena, Sequeira, Raul Silva, Fransèrgio (71′ Andrè Horta), Al Musrati, Gaitan (57′ Zè Carlos), Horta (62′ Piazon), Sporar (62′ Ruiz), Galeno 70′ st Borja) (Tiago Sà, Santos, Rolando, Novais, Rodrigues, Oliveira) Coach: Carvahal

ROMA (3-4-1-2): Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante (7′ Bruno Peres), Ibanez (53′ Villar); Karsdorp, Diawara, Veretout, Spinazzola; Pedro (71′ El Shaarawy), Mkhitaryan, Dzeko (71′ Borja Mayoral) (Mirante, Fuzato, Pellegrini, Carles Perez) Coach: Fonseca

REFEREE: Kovacs (Romania)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Raul Silva (B), Mancini (R); Red Card: Esgaio (B); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 7′