Vincenzo Montella began his Roma reign with a hard-worked 1-0 victory away to Bologna on Wednesday to rekindle the club's UEFA Champions League hopes.
Daniele De Rossi scored the only goal of the game in the last minute of the first half in a match postponed in January due to snow. The victory moved Roma up to sixth in the table and six points behind city rivals Lazio in the final Champions League qualification berth.
"We've rediscovered the fighting spirit which maybe we'd lost over the last few games," said the match-winner. "It seems a bit much to me to talk about what Vincenzo has given us in these last two days, but he began with an incredible desire to prepare (the team). He's always had character and he's shown it also as a coach."
Montella's first act was to make some important changes to the team, restoring Brazilian goalkeeper Doni ahead of compatriot Julio Sergio, who had been first choice since the beginning of last season. The new coach also dropped iconic club captain Francesco Totti to the bench alongside French winger Jeremy Menez with Marco Borriello up front and Brazilian Rodrigo Taddei preferred on the right of midfield.
Having been postponed in the 17th minute in January, the game bizarrely restarted with a corner at that very point, meaning only 28 minutes were played in the first period. Roma had the first chance with De Rossi setting up Simplicio whose effort was saved by Emiliano Viviano.
Chances were few and far between in the first period with Doni saving from Riccardo Meggiorini. However, Roma bucked that trend and took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Mirko Vucinic robbed Federico Casarini near the goal-line and squared for De Rossi whose fierce strike was deflected past Viviano.
The visitors played a patient and conservative game in the second period and again chances were at a premium. Vucinic dragged a shot beyond the far post from the left and a minute from time Matteo Brighi spurned a glorious opportunity when played in by fellow substitute Menez as Viviano spread himself well to block the midfielder's shot.