Giacinti and Giugliano fire rampant AS Roma past Ajax to continue strong Women’s Champions League start

AS Roma have enjoyed an excellent start to this Women's Champions League season, in a very complicated Group C. They comfortably beat Ajax at the Tre Fontane to sit top of the group alongside Bayern Munich.

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AS Roma Women players celebrate a Women's Champions League goal against Ajax. (@ASRomaWomen)

AS Roma Women couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to mark their home debut in the 2023/24 Women’s Champions League, beating Ajax 3-0 at the Stadio Tre Fontane in what was their very first game in the competition proper at their regular home ground.

After Ajax had beaten Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on the opening European matchday and Roma had to fight from two goals down to earn a draw away at Bayern Munich, there was an expectation that the Giallorosse would face a real test on Thursday night in the capital. But that didn’t prove to be the case.

The night was a special one for the hosts, who played their first-ever Women’s Champions League group game at the Tre Fontane, having played at the Stadio Domenico Francioni in Latina last season before hosting Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico in the Round of 16.

In the familiar surroundings of a packed-out and atmospheric Tre Fontane – which had been closed to supporters for their recent 6-0 win over Napoli Femminile due to ongoing work to fit seats and floodlights to allow for their Women’s Champions League games to be hosted there – Roma came flying out of the traps and led inside five minutes.

AS Roma Women fans. (@ASRomaFemminile)

Unforgiving Roma put Ajax to the sword

Before even five minutes had been played, the Giallorosse found themselves in front as a corner from the left made its way across goal to Valentina Giacinti, and the No.9 was typically clinical as she volleyed past Regina van Eijk after the goalkeeper failed to palm the initial cross far enough away from her goal.

Van Eijk‘s evening soon became a nightmare as she gifted Giacinti and Roma a second reason to celebrate. With Ajax looking to build out from the back in a way that the club has long been renowned for, Isa Kardinaal played the ball to her goalkeeper on the edge of their six-yard box, but a complete failure on the part of Van Eijk to trap the ball saw it roll loose and Giacinti pounced to tap into an open goal.

Roma replicate Serie A Femminile form on big stage

Valentina Giacinti and Emilie Haavi celebrate for AS Roma Women. (@ASRomaFemminile)

A lot was rightly made of the difficulty level of Roma‘s Women’s Champions League group when the draw was made, and few could have predicted that the Italian champions would be unbeaten and boast four points after their opening two games in the competition. When two goals behind against Bayern on Matchday 1 and with Ajax earning a shock 2-0 win over PSG, some Roma fans might even have feared the worst.

But the Giallorosse are Italian champions for a reason, and they have been unstoppable domestically this season while so far managing to show their ability on the European stage as well. Their second half in Bavaria saw them earn a deserved point to take home, and they very much picked up where they had left off in their first-ever Women’s Champions League game at the Tre Fontane.

Although the tempo slowed down somewhat in the first half having gone 2-0 to the good so early on, they came out flying again in the second half and Manuela Giugliano continued her fine form in front of goal to add a third. With Emilie Haavi putting a ball into the centre from the right, the No.10 found herself with a yard of space in the box to volley home. The goal marked a fifth straight scoring appearance for the Roma captain between Serie A Femminile and the Women’s Champions League, once again producing her Paulo Dybala-inspired mask celebration.

Ajax did have an effort that hit the crossbar midway through the second half, but Roma‘s grip on the game never looked like loosening. With Giada Greggi, Annamaria Serturini and Benedetta Glionna all coming off the bench, too, Alessandro Spugna was able to flex and show the strength in depth the Giallorosse boast this season.

The result leaves Roma level with Bayern Munich at the top of Group C on four points from two games and they have two more Women’s Champions League fixtures this side of Christmas – away to PSG on December 14, before hosting the French side on December 20.

Before their next European outing, though, Spugna and his side will have to focus on domestic duties and they face third-placed Fiorentina on Matchday 9 of Serie A Femminile. AC Milan await after the international break.

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