Edin Dzeko Late Strike Seals Roma Narrow Win Over Sampdoria

In Round 15, Serie A teams returned to action after a short winter break as third-placed Roma welcomed Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria at the Stadio Olimpico in the hope of cementing their place in the top four.

The hosts were looking for their fourth win in the last five matches, while Sampdoria wanted to bounce back after a 3-2 home defeat to Sassuolo before Christmas. Despite dominating for the majority of the game, it took Roma more than an hour until they managed to find a breakthrough, with Edin Dzeko scoring his sixth goal of this Serie A season, thus leading his team to a narrow 1-0 win.

Paulo Fonseca opted for his tried and trusted tactical formation in 3-4-2-1, with Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Roger Ibanez forming a back three, while Roma’s player of the season so far Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lorenzo Pellegrini supported Dzeko upfront.

In contrast, Ranieri went for a four-man defensive system, with Maya Yoshida, Lorenzo Tonelli, Omar Colley and Tommaso Augello starting at the back. In the attacking end, Valerio Verre was the Blucerchiati’s main supplier of creativity, playing in behind the team captain Fabio Quagliarella.

The start of the game offered little to no surprise, as Roma enjoyed huge spells of possession predominantly building their attacks down the left-wing through Bruno Peres. However, the first half-chance was created down the right channel, with Mkhitaryan going down in the box after a challenge from the Sampdoria defender, but the referee did not see anything criminal and waved play on.

The first attempt on goal of the game was recorded in the 15th minute, with Pellegrini unleashing a ferocious strike from the edge of the box. A dangerous effort towards the left post was superbly saved by the Sampdoria goalkeeper Emil Audero.

Despite Roma’s dominance in possession, the opening half an hour turned out to be rather uneventful, with neither of the teams threatening each other’s goal. In general, Sampdoria saw very little of the ball, attempting to hit Roma on the counterattack on rare occasions after soaking up the pressure in their own half.

The visitors had their first shot on target of the game in the 37th minute, when Antonio Candreva tried a long-range shot, which resulted in a corner-kick. Sampdoria’s narrow and compact defensive set-up made it difficult for Roma to find spaces in central zones, which consequently forced the home team to play the ball out wide on most occasions, resulting in endless crosses into the box.

Nonetheless, Roma almost found a breakthrough five minutes before the half-time, with Mkhitaryan receiving the ball in between the lines as his dangerous low cross to Pellegrini was cleared by Maya Yoshida.

The second-half started with even more rain pouring down the Stadio Olimpico as Dzeko’s header following a cross from Peres went just wide of the right post. Noticeably, Sampdoria retrieved into an even deeper defensive block, trying to preserve a goalless scoreline.

Roma, on the other hand, started to pile on the pressure, which resulted in three decent chances after an hour mark. At first, Smalling’s header hit the bar following an in-swinging free-kick, with Pellegrini’s effort blocked by the Sampdoria defender a few minutes later. Dzeko had another half-chance seconds later but was left empty-handed as Roma’s frustration was growing by seconds.

In the 72nd minute, Sampdoria wasted a glorious opportunity to go 1-0 ahead, their only big chance of the game, with Pau Lopez pulling off a stunning save to deny Morten Thorsby. Ironically, a minute later, Dzeko finally broke Sampdoria’s defensive resistance, showing great determination to get to the ball first ahead of a couple of defenders as his shot found the left side of the net.

Sampdoria tried their best to level the score in the final 15 minutes, but their attacking impetus was severely lacking in this game. Although Roma were not at their best today, it was a deserved win in the end, as confirmed by an xG (expected goals) metric (Roma 2.42-0.17 Sampdoria).  



January 3, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 15

SCORERS: 72′ Dzeko

ROMA (3-4-2-1): Pau Lopez; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Villar (68′ Cristante), Veretout, Bruno Peres; Lo. Pellegrini (82′ Carles Pérez), Mkhitaryan; Dzeko (87′ Borja Mayoral) (Farelli, Boer, Juan Jesus, Kumbulla, Santon, Diawara, Darboe, Podgoreanu, Providence) Coach: Fonseca
SAMPDORIA (4-4-2): Audero; Yoshida (82′ Léris), Tonelli, Colley, Augello; Candreva, Thorsby, Ekdal, Jankto; Verre (63′ Damsgaard); Quagliarella (80′ La Gumina) (Ravaglia, Letica, Rocha, Regini, Bereszynski, Askildsen, Silva, Ramirez) Coach: Ranieri

REFEREE: Mr. Chiffi from Padova
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Smalling, Bruno Peres (R), Yoshida, Augello, Ekdal, Tonelli, Jankto (S); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 3′