Roma prepare for Barcelona challenge by going top
A messy first-half effort from Iago Falque and a cracking Juan Iturbe strike at the death sent Roma provisionally top of Serie A on Saturday after a 2-0 win away to Serie A new boys Frosinone.
Barcelona: A messy first-half effort from Iago Falque and a cracking Juan Iturbe strike at the death sent Roma provisionally top of Serie A on Saturday after a 2-0 win away to Serie A new boys Frosinone.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia had warned his scudetto-chasing side not to take Frosinone, based 75km south-east of the capital, lightly, and the Frenchman`s words proved judicious as the Canaries kept the Giallorossi on their toes, notably losing claims for a penalty in the second half, before relinquishing arms late in the second half.
Days before their Champions League group opener at home to defending champions Barcelona and in the absence of injured Bosnian forward Miralem Pjanic, Garcia was forced to reshuffle.
Iconic club captain Francesco Totti made his first league start of the season playing behind lone striker Edin Dzeko in a 4-2-3-1 formation, while Antonio Rudiger made his Roma debut in central defence.
At the 10,000-capacity Stadio Matusa, Frosinone, playing their first season in Italy`s top flight, were defiant.
Efforts by Aleksandar Tonev, from long range, and a Robert Gucher lob were not far off target, although Roma missed first-half chances too.
Dzeko narrowly failed to connect with Falque`s cross from close in and Seydou Keita should have done better with a free header when Alessandro Florenzi whipped in a delightful ball towards the back post.
Roma took the lead on the stroke of half-time when a Lucas Digne throw-in bounced through the Frosinone defence, allowing Falque a touch from close in to bundle over at the back post.
As maiden goals go, it wasn`t the nicest but it gave Roma the edge to up the pace in a more positive second half that saw Garcia reshuffle again after replacing Dzeko with Radja Nainggolan.
Roma were given the benefit of the doubt on the hour when French defender Digne, who was inside the area, used his hands to protect his face when the ball was crossed in from the right.
The ball came off Digne`s arm but the referee waved away Frosinone`s claims for a penalty. Only a minute later, Daniel Ciofani came close for the hosts with a header from a corner.
Garcia made a late change that effectively changed the outcome.
Iturbe replaced Totti on 81 minutes and minutes later Florenzi hit post and crossbar with a right-foot missile.
Iturbe`s winner came in extra-time, the Argentinian latching on to Mohamed Salah`s pass to power down the right and, despite having Gervinho to his left, turn his marker and fire inside Nicola Leali`s far post.
Frosinone, promoted with Carpi and Bologna, are without a win in three games and sit rock bottom.
Elsewhere, Khouma Babacar headed home on the hour for Fiorentina to secure a 1-0 win at home to Genoa. Later Saturday, champions Juventus bid for their first win of the season, after defeats to Udinese and Roma, at home to Chievo.