A.S. Roma got off to a rousing start in their first leg off the round of 32 in the Europa League. Roma trounced Villarreal in Spain 4-0 almost guaranteeing a pass to the next round. Roma was lead by Edin Dzeko‘s second half hat trick as he put the game away for good.
7 – Edin Dzeko has now scored in seven games in a row with Roma (eight goals). Unstoppable. #VillarrealRoma
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) February 16, 2017
Roma Coach Luciano Spalletti voiced concern about facing Villareal in this round, especially with their high caliber defense leading La Liga this year only allowing 15 goals all season. But Spalletti’s men did a good job of keeping the pressure up throughout.
In the first half Roma was able to keep possession and had early opportunities to take the lead, but Villareal stayed firm. The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute when Emerson scored a wonder goal from distance stunning the home crowd giving the Romans a 1-0 lead.
After nothing further in the first half, Villarreal came out strong in the first ten minutes of the second half and almost leveled the game when Roma keeper Alisson kept a Mario Gaspar header out of the goal.
The game turned on its head when Spalletti substituted Mohamed Salah for Stephan El Shaarawy. Three minutes after coming on, Salah found Dzeko in the box who calmly took the ball from his right to his left and put it in for a 2-0 Roma lead.
Some 15 minutes later Dzeko found himself alone on the break and calmly slotted the ball home again sending Villarreal fans in despair and probably home. When Dzeko scored his third goal in the 89th minute the only cheering he heard where the Giallorossi away fans.
Edin Dzeko has now scored 28 goals for Roma this season; his most in a single campaign since bagging 29 for Wolfsburg in 2009/10. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/nULqyoCPHs
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 16, 2017
The 4-0 loss was the worst for Villarreal at home since Barcelona trounced them 4-0 in a La Liga match. Defeating such a strong side on the road may have signaled what Spalletti already knows about his team. Roma may be one of the remaining favorites in the tournament.
Spalletti will need good health for his team as they also sit second in Serie A seven points behind leaders Juventus. If they are going to lift the Europa Cup, their first leg against Villarreal may be the signal that this is their year.