Roma bounce back with first win
AS Roma lifted the gloom surrounding the Stadio Olimpico by claiming their first win of the season at the fourth attempt in a 3-0 home success over Reggina on Saturday.
Veteran defender Cristian Panucci opened the scoring at the end of the first half and a rocket from Alberto Aquilani doubled the advantage soon after the break before substitute Simone Perrotta struck the third with the last kick of the match.
The capital-city club had failed to win in their first three games this season, picking up one point in their two previous Serie A matches and losing embarrassingly 2-1 at home to debutant Romanians Cluj in the UEFA Champions League.
But despite still missing captain Francesco Totti and centre-backs Philippe Mexes and Juan from their starting line-up, Roma showed signs that they are starting to rediscover the form that has seen them finish runners-up in the last two seasons.
Panucci claimed this result was the right response but victory owed more to a woeful performance from Reggina than their own improvement.
"I'm happy because we needed this victory because the beginning of the season wasn't positive," he said. "This is what the team's response should have been and it was and we're very happy. "There is a lot of pressure at Roma, we lost a league match and one in the Champions League but people acted like we'd thrown away three years of work. What was said was annoying but that's part of the game, we just had to keep quiet and keep working because he hadn't yet solved our problems. Now we're off and running, this win will boost our morale."
Roma typically played plenty of attractive football but their Achilles heel, as always, was their inability to finish off their good approach work. Coach Luciano Spalletti likes to play one man up front with two wide players but his central striker is more of a No10 than 9. That problem was evident on 32 minutes when neat interplay between Aquilani and Rodrigo Taddei saw the former play French winger Jeremy Menez into the box.
But with only goalkeeper Andrea Campagnolo to beat, the ex-Monaco man opted to square the ball but no-one had burst into the six-yard box so the chance went begging.
Roma did get the lead their domination deserved in first half stoppage time but only after a mix-up in the Reggina box. Daniele De Rossi fired a free-kick into the area and a shanked clearance fell to Taddei, who had been in an offside position, leaving the Brazilian the simple task of squaring to an unmarked Panucci to tap home from close range. And just six minutes after the restart Aquilani was allowed to stride forward until he unleashed an unstoppable left-foot shot from just inside the Reggina area.
Perrotta, another player on the injury comeback trail, slotted home a third with the final kick of the match after Campagnolo had parried fellow sub Totti's free-kick.
In the day's other game Catania ended Atalanta's 100 per cent start with a 1-0 victory in Sicily. Michele Paolucci scored the only goal of the game on 59 minutes but fingers will be pointed at Atalanta goalkeeper Ferdinando Coppola for his mistake. Just before the hour mark Giuseppe Mascara released Paolucci in the inside left channel but Coppola should never have been beaten at his near post by the striker's shot. The victory, Catania's second in three matches, moves the Sicilians up to second place in the table for a day at least, with Atalanta dropping to third.