Early penalty sees AS Roma scrape past Bologna

AS Roma began 2023 with victory after Lorenzo Pellegrini's penalty was enough to overcome Bologna at the Stadio Olimpico

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AS Roma began the new year with a win, as they overcame Bologna 1-0 in Serie A on Wednesday, thanks to an early Lorenzo Pellegrini penalty at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Italy international drilled home after Paulo Dybala was brought down in the box, and Roma were comfortable winners without ever pushing into a higher gear, until a dramatic final minute.

Roma were awarded a penalty within the opening five minutes, as Dybala burst into the box and was brought down by a clumsy Jhon Lucumi challenge. Captain Pellegrini made no mistake in sending Lukasz Skorupski the wrong way from the spot.

A scrappy first half saw Giallorossi defender Gianluca Mancini go close with a thunderbolt from outside the area, whilst Nicolo Zaniolo also had an effort from range.

Bologna struggled to work an opening but Marko Arnautovic drilled a low shot wide, and at the other end Dybala was inches away from netting with a magnificent lob after a corner came out to him.

The visitors were given a huge let-off at the start of the second half when a dreadful Adama Soumaoro clearance put Zaniolo in, but Skorupski‘s low save spared his defender’s blushes.

Resolute defence rescues Roma

Bologna’s best chances came soon after as Mancini denied Arnautovic from a Riccardo Orsolini cutback, before a brave Chris Smalling block prevented Nicolas Dominguez from equalised.

The Giallorossi were left clinging on in the final seconds, as Smalling blocked a looping shot, before Tammy Abraham cleared a flick from the resulting corner off the line with the final touch of the game.

Whilst Roma enjoyed just four shots on target, a solid defensive display limited Bologna to just two, as Jose Mourinho‘s side moved level with rivals Lazio in the table with victory and kept a first clean sheet in five matches.

AS Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini, Paulo Dybala and Nicolo Zaniolo (@ASRoma_en)

AS Roma lack cutting edge

Much has been made of the bluntness of Roma’s attack this season, despite the additions of Dybala and Andrea Belotti to complement last season’s top scorer, Abraham.

The England international was benched for the visit of Bologna after poor form this term, with Zaniolo operating as a false nine, but it still didn’t seem to resolve the Lupi’s attacking concerns.

Roma have struggled to just 19 goals so far this season and they were unable to test Skorupski beyond the early penalty, and Mourinho must find a way to make his front line click if the capital club are to sustain a push for the Champions League.

Worse for the Portuguese was the sight of both Zaniolo and Dybala leaving the pitch with injury.

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