Genoa vs Roma 0-2: 18-Year-Old Prodigy Ruins Sheva’s Debut

Genoa vs Roma was supposed to be the night of Andriy Shevchenko but rather turned out to be Felix Afena-Gyan’s breakthrough. The 18-year-old Roma starlet stole the stage with a late brace that condemned the Ukrainian coach to start his adventure at the helm of the Grifone with a loss.

It was not all bad news for Shevchenko, however, as his Genoa held their own for 84 minutes at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium before succumbing the new prodigy’s magic. The new coach lined them up in a conservative 3-5-2 setup where 37-year-old Goran Pandev spearheaded the attack alongside Caleb Ekuban.

José Mourinho replied with his usual setup where the only surprise was Nicolò Zaniolo being left on the bench. Curiously, two of Roma offensive players – Eldor Shomurodov and Stephan El Shaarawy – had some past experiences at Genoa.  

Shevchenko’s defensive approach resulted in Genoa creating only one noteworthy chance in the whole first half. However, Ekuban’s shot was deflected by Marash Kumbulla and comfortably ended in Rui Patricio’s hands. Roma, on the other hand, were in control of the operations for most of the time.

After Henrikh Mkhitaryan saw a beautiful winning effort disallowed for a Tammy Abraham handball in the build-up, it was Uzbek striker Shomurodov to make himself dangerous in at least three occasions. His first and third shots ended out of target, while his second conclusion posed no serious threat to Salvatore Sirigu. 

In the second half, Sheva switched to an even more defensive setup as Pandev was replaced by midfielder Hernani. Roma also slowed down their tempo, with the result that their only additional conclusion came on 70 minutes and was again a Mkhitaryan initiative. The Armenian’s shot was far from threatening though.

On 75 minutes, Mourinho sent in Afena-Gyan for Shomurodov. That proved to be a decisive move on the part of the Portuguese coach, as the 18-year-old from Ghana found the back of the net twice in the last 12 minutes. His first winning effort was the consequence of a fine Mkhitaryan effort, which the Armenian delivered at the end of an irresistible progression along the left flank.

Four minutes into added time, Afena-Gyan put the cherry on top of his breakthrough performance with a sharp shot from the edge of the box that beat Sirigu again.

Is a new star just born in Rome? That’s too early to say as the Giallorossi have a long history of potential talents nurtured by their Primavera team who all got lost along the way. But, for the time being, Mourinho can be happy with the 18-year-old Ghanaian pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for him in a tricky match.

For what concerns Genoa, the Rossoblu were missing four key players in Domenico Criscito, Nikola Maksimovic, Mattia Destro and Felipe Caicedo so Shevchenko can only hope he will recover some of them fast. However, the other teams involved in the relegation battle won’t necessarily stop and wait for him to do so. 



November 21, 2021 – Serie A 2021-2022 Round 13

SCORERS: 82′ Afena-Gyan, 92′ Afena-Gyan

GENOA (3-5-2): Sirigu; Biraschi (84′ Bianchi), Masiello, Vasquez; Sabelli (84′ Ghiglione), Sturaro (90′ Buksa), Badelj (90′ Galdames), Rovella, Cambiaso; Pandev (63′ Hernani), Ekuban (Marchetti, Semper, Serpe, Vanheusden, Behrami, Portanova, Toure) Coach: Shevchenko
ROMA (3-5-2): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Kumbulla (87′ Smalling), Ibanez; Karsdrop, Lo. Pellegrini (93′ Bove), Veretout, El Shaarawy; Mkhitaryan; Abraham, Shomurodov (75′ Afena-Gyan) (Fuzato, Reynolds, Tripi, Darboe, Diawara, Zaniolo, Borja Mayoral, Carles Perez, Zalewski) Coach: Mourinho

REFEREE: Mr. Irrati from Pistoia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Cambiaso, Badelj, Sabelli (G), Veretout, Afena-Gyan (R); Added Time: 1st Half: 1′, 2nd Half: 4′