AS Roma‘s Women’s Champions League campaign ended at the group stage as the Women’s Serie A champions lost 2-1 away to Ajax on Matchday 6 to finish bottom of Group C, which had been billed as the group of death.
The group had been competitive from the very beginning, and even by the end it was so tight that each of the four sides – Roma, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain – were each at various points on the final evening occupying the qualification positions. Even after the 80th minute in both Amsterdam and Munich, the Group C standings changed as many as three times.
In the end, though, it is Ajax and PSG who advance to the knockout rounds of this season’s Women’s Champions League, and Roma end just their second-ever European campaign at the bottom of the group behind Bayern in third.
Roma start well in Amsterdam, Bartoli’s big moment
Roma captain Elisa Bartoli has a real habit of stepping things up in attack when her team need a saviour. It was her goal that saw them beat Fiorentina last season to get over the line and win Serie A for the first time, and on Matchday 5 of this season’s Women’s Champions League campaign she tirelessly made it to the byline in stoppage time to cross for Manuela Giugliano to score. Again, in Amsterdam, Bartoli delivered.
A cagey first half looked destined to go all the way without a goal being scored or even a serious chance being created, until the Giallorosse got a free-kick a long way from goal and out wide on the left. In a reversal of the previous week’s late drama, it was Giugliano who stood over the ball and planted it onto Bartoli‘s head for the captain to nod in a glancing header off the far post.
But Alessandro Spugna‘s side couldn’t make it in at the break leading, as Tiny Hoekstra drew the hosts level on the stroke of half time.
Roma fade and Ajax step up, while there’s madness in Munich…
The second half saw Roma restart without Giugliano after a knock picked up before the break saw her forced off for Giada Greggi, and no.9 Valentina Giacinti was taken off relatively early in the half as well looking utterly spent.
With Roma unable to find a way to goal again, there was a real feeling of their spirits being dampened by the fact that Bayern Munich had held a lead at home to PSG for most of the night as well, meaning that even a Giallorosse win would see them fall short of securing second place. Although Tabitha Chawinga drawing the French side level would have given them renewed hope, by the time the news of the ex-Inter star’s goal had made it to Amsterdam, Sydney Lohmann had restored Bayern‘s lead.
With the task then facing Roma looking too great to overcome, 18-year-old Zara Kramzar suffered the misfortune of turning into her own goal as she tried to head a corner clear from the near post, and the Giallorosse’s hopes had gone.
Although Bartoli will feel she should have been awarded a stoppage-time penalty as she went to ground in the box, all attention at this point was firmly on what was happening in Bavaria, where Bayern looked to have gone through with the final kick of the game only to be – correctly – thwarted by the offside flag.
Group C then comes to a close with PSG and Ajax advancing, each on 10 points. Bayern took third place with seven points and Roma finished bottom with five.