Roma picked up their first win of the new season on Sunday at the Stadio Olimpico with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Juventus to send the defending champions crashing to a second straight defeat. Miralem Pjanic, denied by the post in the opening half, gave the hosts a deserved lead with a brilliant free-kick in the 61st minute. After Juve had Patrice Evra sent off for a second yellow card with 12 minutes remaining, Roma made them pay seconds later when Manchester City’s on-loan striker Edin Dzeko headed in Iago Falque’s cross for his first Serie A goal. Paulo Dybala reduced the arrears with three minutes remaining but Juve did not find the equaliser despite having chances to do so.
Roma dominate first half but fail to take advantage
The Scudetto showdown of recent years was surprisingly in Week 2 and both sides were looking for their first win. The Giallorossi were held 1-1 at Verona and Juve suffered a shock home defeat to Udinese. This is the first time in history that the Bianconeri have lost their opening two games. Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic started together for the first time, while Roma new buys Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah worked on their partnership. The visitors missed Claudio Marchisio, Sami Khedira and Kwadwo Asamoah, while Andrea Barzagli was rested in favour of Martin Caceres. Lucas Digne was thrown straight into the starting XI and Daniele De Rossi a surprise at centre-back.
Roma had penalty appeals within 29 seconds, as Mandzukic clipped Alessandro Florenzia s heels in the box, but the referee waved play on. Rudi Garcia said he wanted his men to start as if they were chasing the game and they certainly did, pumping crosses into the box and harassing Juve into losing possession with Iago Falque blasting just wide. Florenzi drilled off target when he should’ve passed and Mandzukica s first touch let him down on a Paul Pogba cross. On 24 minute, first Iago Falquea s ball rolled across the six-yard box with Dzeko unable to tap in, then the move continued and Miralem Pjanic smacked against the upright from the edge of the box. Giorgio Chiellini was lucky to avoid a booking on Pjanic, then got his warning a few minutes later.
Roma get their first win of the new Serie A season
Early in the second half, Martin Caceres tried his luck from outside the area but his effort flew high and wide. In the 57th minute, Pjanic could have made it 1-0 for Roma when he got behind Edin Dzeko’s pass but his left-footed shot from the heart of the area lacked pace and was saved by Buffon. Buffon was called again three minutes later to clear Dzeko’s shot towards the near post. Roma’s efforts were then rewarded. Buffon could do nothing to stop Pjanic’s right-footed free-kick from sailing into the top left corner of goal.
In the 66th minute, Juve had their third-choice goalkeeper Rubinho sent off from the bench for dissent. Roma kept up the pressure and in the 71st minute, Radja Nainggolan warmed the hands of Buffon with a stinging drive from 30 yards. Three minutes later and Dzeko’s close-range attempt was blocked by Chiellini. Juve suffered a huge setback when Evra was handed his marching orders after a late challenge on Juan Manuel Iturbe. Roma doubled their lead seconds later when Dzeko got past his Chiellini to nod the ball past a helpless Buffon. Juve pulled one back when substitute Roberto Pereyra set up Dybala in the box and his diagonal shot beat Szczesny. Seconds from time Leonardo Bonucci’s header from Dybala’s cross forced Szczesny into a full-stretch save as the hosts held on for a deserved three points. The victory means Roma hold second place in the Serie A table while Juventus, yet to get a point, are in 17th.
The Bianconeri will have a chance to bounce back from this defeat when they host Chievo in Week 3, and after two embarrassing losses, Massimiliano Allegri’s men are in dire need of a win to find some momentum. Consistency has been a major issue for Roma in the past, as well as the inability to beat the top teams in Italy, so Sunday’s win is a huge in terms of mental impact. Rudi Garcia’s men now know they can beat Juventus, who have dominated Italian football for the last four years. A meeting with Serie A newcomers Frosinone should lead to another three points in Week 3.