Edin Dzeko scored two volleys – left and right foot – to overturn Manolo Gabbiadini’s opener, as Roma struggled to beat Sampdoria 2-1, Football Italia reports.
The Giallorossi were back on the pitch for the first time since March 1, but missing Pau Lopez and Nicolò Zaniolo, but Roger Ibanez was surprisingly picked for his Serie A debut in defense, with Javier Pastore’s first start since November. Samp were beaten 2-1 by Inter at the weekend in their rescheduled Week 25 fixture, still without Fabio Quagliarella and Alex Ferrari, but ex-Roma coach Claudio Ranieri made several changes.
Edin Dzeko’s free header was well saved by Emil Audero in the opening minutes, then the goalkeeper out-did himself with a low one-handed save on Dzeko’s angled drive, sent clear by a no-look Henrikh Mkhitaryan pass.
It was clear from the start this was going to be a long night for Audero, who parried a Pastore strike with his face, but Sampdoria took the lead against the run of play.
It was a catalogue of errors in the Roma defence, as Roger Ibanez was distracted, didn’t notice the Amadou Diawara back-pass and Manolo Gabbiadini pounced to score from a tight angle.
Augello tried to gift a goal back with a poor header in the box, but Mkhitaryan didn’t make the most of it, then Morten Thorsby’s header was off target for Samp.
Diawara made another terrible defensive error and was fortunate not to pay for it, as Jakub Jankto clipped the upright with a daisy-cutter.
Roma thought they had equalized with a spectacular long-range shot on the half-volley into the far top corner by Jordan Veretout on 31 minutes. However, it was disallowed after a VAR on-field review due to Carles Perez handball. Under the new rules, if the ball touches the hand or arm in the direct build-up to a goal, it must be disallowed, regardless of whether it was considered intentional. In this case, the ball was fired on to his arm from point-blank range, the arm flush to the torso, but that means nothing under the current guidelines.
Mkhitaryan’s volley was strong and low, but inches wide, as Roma continued to push and dominate possession while leaving themselves open to the counter, such as the save on Jankto.
Roma did get back on track with a magnificent goal from Dzeko, but it was set up by Lorenzo Pellegrini immediately after he came off the bench. Pellegrini floated a smart ball over the top, Dzeko let it fall over his shoulder and smashed the left-foot volley in from a tight angle.
Aleksandar Kolarov was unlucky not to turn it around entirely, as his low free kick bounced off the base of the upright.
However, Roma became increasingly tired towards the end and Mirante struggled to punch away a corner, but Dzeko came to the rescue and turned it around completely in the final minutes.
It was another ball over the top, Yoshida didn’t read it well and Dzeko volleyed in low with his right foot this time.
Samp hit back, Thorsby’s header off target from a Gaston Ramirez free kick in a nervous final few minutes for Roma, who had Dzeko back defending.