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Serie A

  • September 27, 2014
  • • 12:00 PM
  • • Stadio Olimpico, Roma
  • Referee: C. Russo
  • • Attendance: 40432
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Roma 2-0 Verona: Destro wonder-goal seals fifth win in a row for Giallorossi

The striker found the back of the net with an incredible 40-yard strike after Alessandro Florenzi had broken the deadlock with his low drive.

Roma maintained its perfect start to season when it claimed a fifth successive league victory, beating a stubborn Hellas Verona side 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Rudi Garcia's side scraped to midweek win against Parma thanks to Miralem Pjanic's late goal, and it was a similar story Saturday, with the outcome of the encounter always in doubt until a wonder strike by Mattia Destro secured the points in the closing minutes.

His effort consigned Verona to a first loss of the season, though for long periods it appeared content to survive Roma’s incessant pressure.

All eyes prior to the match were on Roma skipper and legend Francesco Totti, who was celebrating his 38th birthday. And those eyes will immediately be cast beyond this Serie A encounter. The capital club faces a strenuous test next week, with a midweek clash against English giant Manchester City in the Champions League, and a meeting with Italian title holders and fellow high-flyers Juventus a few days later.

Despite having a chronic injury list, including the likes of Daniele De Rossi, ex-Verona star Juan Manuel Iturbe, Leandro Castan, Kevin Strootman, Davide Astori and Marco Borriello, and with crucial league points at stake, Garcia still elected to rest in-form Gervinho.

Verona, which has its own substantial casualty list, could be pleased with the start it made, limiting Roma to long range attempts from Radja Nainggolan, Seydou Keita and Maicon, none of which troubled goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini.

Gollini should have been beaten after 15 minutes when Maicon’s cross was met by striker Mattia Destro, but his header back across the goal went wide of the post. Manolas was another who went close with a header as Roma hemmed in the visitors.

Just after the half hour, Totti almost delivered the perfect birthday gift. Maicon and Miralem Pjanic combined down the right to create havoc in the Verona defence,  the ball breaking to the sliding Totti who was squeezed out and Rafael Marquez eventually booted the ball clear.

What little progress Verona did make ended with Juanito Gomez and Nene failing to capitalize, but it took a good save from Morgan De Sanctis to deny Gomez, in the 38th minute, who had managed to get in behind Ashley Cole.

Just on halftime Verona was forced to make a switch when Mounir Obbadi picked up what appeared to be a hamstring injury as Roma finished on the front foot, Destro’s shot comfortably saved by Gollini.

From the restart, Totti was involved in the action as the match continued along familiar lines; Roma attacked, Hellas held on.

Approaching the hour mark, and with little indication that the host was close to breaking down the Verona barricade, Gervinho was introduced at the expense of Adem Ljajic as the joint leader tried desperately to find a way through.

Maicon's low, driven cross was easily gathered by Gollini at his near post, while Mapou should have done better with a free header from a Pjanic corner.

For all its possession, there was no end product from the locals, forcing Rudi Garcia to again gamble with Alessandro Florenzi, meaning there would be no birthday goal from Totti.

While the contest was goalless,  Verona was always in it, and Nene flashed a shot wide on the break. That was the Brazilian’s last contribution as he was replaced by Luca Toni as Andrea Mandorlini showed some level of intent.

De Sanctis was left scrambling across his goal as a Panagiotis Tachtsidis free kick was missed by everyone. However, back on the attack again, Roma took a deserved lead as substitute Florenzi latched on to a loose ball and lashed a low strike from 25 yards into the corner of the net.

The relief amongst the Roma squad was evident, Totti leading the celebrations on the touchline.

The advantage was almost doubled minutes later, but Gervinho’s mazy run ended with Destro blasting high off target. With space to exploit as Verona searched for an equaliser, Gervinho was again the creator to set up Florenzi who saw his close-range shot touched onto the bar by Gollini.

However, the young keeper was badly exposed four minutes from time by Mattia Destro.

The Roma striker took the ball on his chest just inside the Verona territory, and spotting Gollini out of position, smashed a 50 meter lob shot high over the backtracking keeper to clinch all three points and enable Totti to begin his birthday celebrations.

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