Paulo Dybala led AS Roma to a convincing 3-1 win over Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico on Matchday 13 of the 2023/24 Serie A campaign, that puts the Romans within touching distance of the Champions League qualification places.
Zebrette attacker Florian Thauvin cancelled out an early Gianluca Mancini goal just after half-time, but the Argentina international capped an impressive performance with the crucial goal and Stephan El Shaarawy added a late third.
Paulo Dybala loves hunting the Zebrette
Only Francesco Totti, with 20 against Parma, has been involved in more goals versus one opponent in Serie A than Paulo Dybala, as the Roma attacker reached 19, when he lifted a deep-lying free kick onto the head of Mancini and netted himself.
The Udinese players appeared well aware of the pain the former Juventus attacker has caused them over the years, as the 30-year-old was ruthlessly hacked down multiple times throughout a game in which he looked to be the Giallorossi’s main creative threat, even with Lorenzo Pellegrini returning to the starting XI.
On 81 minutes, the Argentina international was rewarded for a wonderful performance at the Stadio Olimpico when he raced through the middle of the Zebrette defence and slotted home the crucial second goal, and Roma‘s 4500th in Serie A.
AS Roma rise above the rest of Serie A
While the win only lifted Roma into fifth place in Serie A, the opening goal from Mancini took them ahead of Fiorentina, as the team that has scored the most headed goals this term. The defenders’ strike on 20 minutes was the Giallorossi’s seventh of the season, although the space which the Udinese defence provided the Italian meant he hardly had to leave the ground to nod home.
The visitors should have been warned of the threat early on, when Mancini first rose above a stationary defensive line when a free kick was curled in from the right wing. The ex-Atalanta man sent his header well wide of the Zebrette goalpost, though. However, the visitors showed their own heading prowess to equalise on 59 minutes, when Florian Thauvin rose to meet a deep cross at the back post.
AS Roma continue to dominate in the capital
With Roma pushing for a Champions League qualification place and Udinese looking nervously down at the relegation places in 16th, it was hard to see anything other than a Giallorossi victory. Particularly as the hosts had won 12 of their last 14 versus the Zebrette with an aggregate score of 34-13.
However, Udinese travelled to Rome unbeaten in their last seven Serie A away fixtures under the stewardship of coach Gabriele Cioffi and confidence in leaving the capital would have grown after the Thauvin equaliser. The strength of Roma was ultimately too much and a wonderfully taken curling effort from Stephan El Shaarawy helped reflect the hosts dominance.