Roma squeaked past nine-man Napoli 2-0 on Saturday night to leapfrog the Serie A champions in the table. A fiercely contested fixture at the Stadio Olimpico produced plenty of overzealous tackles and heated arguments but too little football beauty.
Jose Mourinho’s tactical set-up left Napoli bamboozled, with Partenopei failing to create a clear-cut chance across 90 minutes. However, it’s not like Roma enjoyed a prolific evening, especially before Matteo Politano’s expulsion midway through the second half.
In a true ‘Mourinho’ style, Roma took full advantage of the only half-chance they constructed until the 76th minute. Captain Lorenzo Pellegrini came off the bench to break the deadlock with a phenomenal volley from the edge of the box.
When referee Andrea Colombo sent off Victor Osimhen in the 86th minute, there was no way back for Napoli into this installment of the famous Derby del Sole. Romelu Lukaku sweetened the deal with the last kick of the game to put Roma back into the win column after back-to-back scoreless league games.
Rui Patricio – 6.5
Not overly busy, the experienced goalkeeper had to make a few routine saves in the second half after spending the opening 45 minutes as a spectator.
Evan Ndicka – 7.5
Not many Serie A defenders can brag about having the upper hand in the one-on-one duel with Victor Osimhen. However, the former Eintracht Frankfurt man rose to the occasion, keeping last season’s Capocannoniere winner frustrated for most of the night.
Diego Llorente – 8
Another superb performance from Roma’s new defensive leader! His timing was impeccable, his positioning was always on the mark, and he never panicked under pressure.
Gianluca Mancini – 7.5
You’d expect a robust center-back to struggle against the pace and trickery of resurgent Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, but the Italian star did his job up to a ‘T.’
Nicola Zalewski – 6
His tactical foul on Politano drew a relatively cheap red card from the Italian winger. But it was pretty much the highlight of the Pole’s evening as he failed to offer a spark on the left.
Bryan Cristante – 5.5
He should consider himself lucky for dodging an expulsion tonight. Despite picking up a first-half booking, he refused to calm down, dancing on the edge of a second bookable offense. His passing was wayward.
Leandro Paredes – 6
After appearing nervous at first, the Argentine grew into the contest, putting on a physical and energetic showing in midfield, where he lunged into tackles and halted numerous Napoli attacks.
Edoardo Bove – 7
His running power, on and off the ball, caused problems for Napoli. Despite helping to build momentum for Roma following a relatively sluggish start, he overshadowed an electrifying performance with a bizarre miss from point-blank.
Rasmus Kristensen – 6.5
Though his attacking limitations often curtailed the home side’s bid to progress on the right flank, it’s no wonder Mourinho prefers him over Rick Karsdorp. His defensive prowess came to light as he neutralized Kvaratskhelia almost effortlessly.
Andrea Belotti – 6
After showing nifty footwork to round past his markers in the first half, he disappeared from the pitch after the break, inviting Mourinho to sub him off shortly after Politano’s withdrawal.
Romelu Lukaku – 6.5
Completely cut off from the rest of the pack for most of the night, Lukaku’s sloppy first touches and slow off-the-ball movement didn’t help his cause either, making him a marginal figure tonight. Redeemed himself with a last-gasp strike.
Stephan El Shaaraway – 6
His miskick from the edge of the box turned into an assist for Pellegrini’s beauty.
Sardar Azmoun – 4.5
A near-anonymous performance from the Iranian forward since coming on.
Lorenzo Pellegrini – 7.5
Off the bench and on the scoresheet with one of the most delightful finishes you’ll see in Serie A this month.
Zeki Celik – 6
Found himself in several promising positions in the latter stages but never made of them.
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