Cristante Delivers Mourinho First Win
Roma beat Salernitana 1-0 to get all three points on offer at the Arechi Stadium on Sunday night and that’s all that matters to José Mourinho. The Giallorossi are one of the most exciting outfits to watch for in this incipient Serie A campaign but their first display was not exactly spectacular – albeit effective.
Facing a Salernitana side that was well disposed by coach Davide Nicola, Roma found the back of the net in the first half and defended their slim lead in a second period that offered little to the show – also due to the mid-August high temperature in Salerno.
Mourinho gave some playing time to all his new jewels, deploying Paulo Dybala from the start and adding Nemanja Matic and Georginio Wijnaldum later in the game. Still, it was veteran Bryan Cristante to pull the Special One’s chestnuts out of the fire as he scored the only goal of the night with a clinical left-foot shot.
Cristante Opens the Season Scoring for Roma
Watching the two coaches’ different approaches to the game was a show within the show: Mourinho remained immobile for the whole first half, while Nicola was restless. The master relegation escaper urged his men to play higher up the pitch and be more aggressive from the get go. They took him by word as the Granata collected three yellow cards before the break.
Salernitana managed to control the Giallorossi for the first half hour as Roma struggled to ignite the three men on the front line. Nicoló Zaniolo was a bit more active than Tammy Abraham and Dybala, drawing the first save of the game from Luigi Sepe.
Mourinho’s men drew first blood on 33 minutes as Cristante broke a personal scoring drought that lasted since 128 days. The Milan academy product found his ace in the hole as he received the ball right outside the box and fired it past Sepe with a tricky diagonal shot.
Roma gained courage and came close to double their scoring before half time, with Zaniolo and Dybala giving a small sample of what they may be able to do together. The Azzurri starlet’s counterattack on 44 minutes was brilliant and ended with a fine service for La Joya, whose shot crashed into Sepe’s left post.
A Second Half Stalemate
Eight minutes into the second half, Nicola added some experience to the lot as Frank Ribery was brought in for Grigoris Kastanos among the Granata lines. The Salernitana gaffer tried more offensive solutions as minutes went by, first adding Chilean forward Diego Valencia and then bringing in the 198cm-tall Julian Kristoffersen.
However, it ended up being a pretty relaxing night for Roma’s shot-stopper Rui Patricio who was never called to action in the second half. Salernitana’s main striker Federico Bonazzoli worked hard in the box to create some trouble but ultimately to no avail.
The only chances after the restart were for Roma: Zaniolo seemed unstoppable and the home side struggled to contain him. His curl on 66 minutes hit the side netting but only after sending a shiver down all the Salernitana supporters’ backs. Dybala drove another shot off target, served by the returning Leonardo Spinazzola this time.
Mourinho eventually understood that one goal could be enough and made a conservative substitution, sending in Matic for Abraham. Wijnaldum got some playing time when the Special One pulled off an exhausted Zaniolo. The Dutchman found the back of the net before full time but his winning effort was disallowed on grounds of offside.
That was fair enough as a two-goal deficit would have been too much of a punishment for a Salernitana side that appeared solid, although offensively inconsistent.
August 14, 2022 – Serie A 2022-2023 Round 1
SALERNITANA – ROMA 0-1
SCORER: 33′ Cristante
|SALERNITANA (3-5-2): Sepe; Bronn, Gyomber, Fazio; Candreva, Kastanos (54′ Ribery), Coulibaly (73′ Kristoffersen), Vilhena, Mazzocchi (62′ Sambia); Bonazzoli, Botheim (62′ Valencia) (Micai, Sorrentino, Bradaric, Veseli, Radovanovic, Iervolino, Kechrida, Capezzi, Pirola) Coach: Nicola|
|ROMA (3-5-2): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Pellegrini, Spinazzola; Dybala (89′ El Shaarawy), Zaniolo (79′ Wijnaldum); Abraham (68′ Matic) (Svilar, Boer, Shomurodov, Vina, Celik, Kumbulla, Zalewski, Bove, Felix, Tripi) Coach: Mourinho|
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Coulibaly, Gyomber, Kastanos (S), Smalling, Matic (R); Added Time: 1st Half: 1′, 2nd Half: 4′
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