CSKA Sofia 0-3 Roma: Alessio Cerci Double Helps Romans Conquer Europa League Group In Style

A weakened Roma side did the job in Bulgaria to top the group...
CSKA Sofia 0-3 Roma Lineups/Stats
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Roma ensured they clinched first place in Group E of the Europa League after a comfortable win against CSKA Sofia.

An Alessio Cerci double saw his side on their way in what was a balanced game in Bulgaria. Filippo Scardina added a third late on to seal the win.

Roma came into the final group clash having already qualified for the round of 32 a fortnight ago by beating Basel 2-1 at home.

With that in mind, Claudio Ranieri fielded a weaker side against CSKA Sofia who were already eliminated from the competition and had no hopes of making the next round having only won a point from their last five games. For the Italians though it was a chance to seal top place in the group with Basel entertaining Fulham in the other group game.

The Vasel Levski stadium was more empty than full, with only a handful of fans braving the cold to see their side in action. With Francesco Totti being rested ahead of this weekend’s Serie A clash against Parma, Daniele De Rossi took the captain’s armband. Mirko Vucinic missed out through injured, leaving Stefano Okaka Chuka and Julio Baptista to lead the charge up front.

It was the home side who enjoyed the early possession after kick off. Svetoslav Petrov’s through ball found Michel who did well to get to the touchline. His cross-shot worried Bogdan Lobont, but it went wide of the mark.

Roma’s first real chance arrived from a set piece. Julio Baptista was hacked to the ground. David Pizarro laid the ball off to Daniele De Rossi who tried to pick out Okaka, but Zdravko Chavdarov made the save.

The Lupi had to rely on some quick reaction saves by Lobont. The custodian did well to deny Jordan Minez’s long range effort as he got down to his near post to tip the ball away.

Spas Delev then sent his follow up way over the crossbar. There was nothing to shout home about from the Giallorossi. They were happy to sit back and allow the Bulgarians to settle. Simone Perrotta won a corner as his side pushed forward on the break. Cerci stepped up, but sent his effort well beyond Baptista’s inward run.

Sofia should have taken the lead from Kostadin Stoyanov’s header. The big defender rose up to meet Delev’s cross, but powered his attempt just past the post.

The Giallorossi reacted to the Bulgarian attack when Perrotta connected with the ball on the volley from Pizarro’s cross. However, he saw his effort fly back off the upright.

Chances continued to fall to Roma. Okaka danced his way into the box, but was unable to slide the ball under Chavdarov as he aimed for the far post.

The deadlock was finally broken by Cerci. The Italian winger did well to come inside on De Rossi’s pass. He beat two defenders before firing a left foot drive past Chavdarov on the stroke of half-time.

Roma continued to press forward in the second half. Okaka played a great one-two move with John Arne Riise. The young Italian was unlucky on the reverse pass as the Norwegian's cross was cut out by Apostol Popov.

It wasn't long before the Lupi doubled their advantage. Cerci did well to control the ball in the box before sliding it under Chavdarov to see his side enjoy a comfortable lead.

Sofia searched for a response to Roma's dominance. Miniev coming close after his left-foot effort cleared Lobont's bar by inches as the Italians stepped off the gas.

With Sofia bombing forward, they were left prone to a counter attacking threat from the Giallorossi. De Rossi found Cerci with a super pass. The youngster was all free, but showed his inexperience as he hit the ball at the Bulgarian 'keeper rather than pass it to Okaka who was free on the back post.

Roma then sealed the win thanks to quick thinking from Perrotta. He stole the ball in midfield and found Filippo Scardina who made it 3-0 as he tapped in from close range.

Salvatore Landolina, Goal.com