Bolt Arena (Helsinki) – It was a night of agony for HJK Helsinki as AS Roma were 2-1 victors in the Finnish capital meaning the home side are now out of European competition for the season.
Goals from Tammy Abraham and former Chievo man Peparim Hetemaj had things all square, but an Arrtu Hoskonen own goal settled the Europa League Group C tie.
That being said VAR had a big part to play with Roma having a goal ruled out for offside in the build up, then with less than five minutes left to play, HJK thought they had a late equaliser when David Browne lashed one in from 35 yards.
But after VAR review, Malik Abubakari was deemed to have fouled Bryan Cristante in the build up as a corner was swung into the box.
The result leaves Roma level on points with Ludogorets, and the pair face off in Rome in a week to determine who will join Real Betis in the next round of the Europa League.
While the game seemed destined to be another banana skin for Roma, as they went to a Nordic country with a team that used a plastic pitch – they had lost their previous two games on them – it in fact turned out quite well for the Giallorossi.
VAR helped them in the end, but the three points were deserved and Abraham was the catalyst as Roma scored more than one goal in a European away match for the first time since 9 December 2021, against CSKA Sofia.
The Englishman got the first and his mere presence allowed for the second. And despite the absence of Paulo Dybala, it seems the Argentine is being replaced by Lorenzo Pellegrini with the pair linking up for three of Abraham’s last six goals.
A night for the youngsters
Jose Mourinho sprung something of a surprise in starting Cristian Volpato, who became the sixth player under the age of 19 to start for Roma in a major European competition since the beginning of last decade – the others being Daniele Verde, Pietro Boer, Mory Bamba, Tommaso Milanese and Riccardo Calafiori.
And going even younger, Giacomo Faticanti is now the first Italian player born after January 1, 2004 to play a Europa League match.