AS Roma official website analyzes game with InStat data.
Roma beat Porto 2-1 in a captivating Champions League contest on Tuesday night. Our columnist looks at four key points from the contest...
First leg win invaluable
On a night where Nicolo Zaniolo's brilliant brace propelled Roma to a 2-1 victory over FC Porto, there was certainly plenty of positivity to be extracted from the performance.
Although conceding an unfortunate away goal was disappointing, Roma were in control for large periods, defended with conviction and unleashed seven shots to Porto's two. The fact they gave as good as they got against this physical Porto side, who were keen to impose themselves to unsettle Roma, will also give the Giallorossi extra confidence heading into the second leg.
With the tie tensely poised heading into the away fixture in three weeks, Eusebio Di Francesco was full of praise for his troops in his post-match comments.
"I congratulated the lads for their attitude and focus at both ends of the pitch," he said.
"We were really solid. We knew what we wanted to do and we struck at the right time. We fashioned lots of openings to hurt our opponents and gave very little away.
"It's a shame about the goal we conceded because it wasn't really a mistake of ours, although we may have dropped off too early and opened ourselves up. It was a good all-round performance."
Nicolo Zaniolo continued his remarkable breakthrough campaign by putting in another fantastic performance on the big stage. In a match where he became the youngest player to score a Champions League brace, his tactical awareness, physicality and technique once again shone through.
From his right wing post, the way he handled Porto's bruising approach was a joy to watch, as he rode the opposition's challenges with aplomb and never stopped offering himself as an option despite being brought down ruggedly on many occasions.
Far from being discouraged by this attention, he relished these confrontations, where his strength, hulking frame and balance ensured he was a tough man to outmuscle.
Excelling with his back to goal hold up play, he astutely protected the ball before then turning his man powerfully to cut infield towards goal or link play with his crisp passing.
Also demonstrating his capacity to break free from his marker, he performed shrewd rotations with the likes of Alessandro Florenzi and Bryan Cristante, plus found space between the lines cleverly, this was unquestionably a night that'll live long in the memory of Roma's talented wonderkid.
The stats duly accentuate his first rate exertions, for he produced two key passes, three shots, four dribbles, seven successful defensive actions and was fouled four times.
Pellegrini's energy vital at both ends
Operating from his left-sided central midfield role, Lorenzo Pellegrini's intensity, running power and dynamic movement served Roma wonderfully throughout the victory. Especially dangerous through his penetrative forward runs and with his exemplary pressing, the Italian was a constant thorn in the side for the Dragoes.
To start with his damaging runs, and the way he craftily timed and directed his surges gave Roma an another dimension going forward. So hard to track due to Porto's defenders being tied up by their respective markers, Pellegrini exploited space with his smart runs from deep, which regularly caught out the away side and unbalanced their stopping structure.
Whether marauding into the box or targeting the gap between Porto's right back and right sided central defender, Eder Militao and Felipe respectively, Pellegrini's impact was keenly felt.
Then, when it came to his pressing, he did a fantastic job of disrupting Porto's build-up, for he responded rapidly to triggers and executed his actions vigorously.
The most prominent trigger he adhered to came when right centre back, Felipe, received possession. Upon observing this, he would step forward and relentlessly press his adversary, while using his cover shadow to block passing lanes, to frequently force Felipe into low percentage long balls or turnovers.
This deliberate tactic bore fruit many times, most notably when he superbly won back possession prior to Roma's crucial second, as his timing and delivery of the manager's demands was spot on.
Danger in transition
Another highlight from the triumph arose from their threat on the counter attack. Breaking at speed whenever they recovered possession, they strategically got at Sergio Conceicao's side, with their quick ball movement and positioning proving key.
With Edin Dzeko often acting as the reference point centrally to occupy one or more central defenders, the wingers marauding forward wide or in the infield channels and usually one midfielder capably supporting, Roma constructed many excellent scenarios here.
Pulling apart the Porto structure with their coordinated movement and speed, they did a fine job of destabilising their foes and subsequently causing marking dilemmas.
A testament to their efficiency here came from their second goal, where Pellegrini won back possession to kickstart the quick transition, before Dzeko charged upfield alongside the wingers to put Porto on the back foot in a 3v3 situation, in a passage which culminated in Zaniolo's goal.
Ahead of the second leg, a match Roma will most likely endure some challenging moments in, their output on the counter could be a real difference maker in their quest to qualify for the quarter-finals for the second year running.
All statistical data are provided by InStat. Images are created with InStat Scout video platform.
Source: AS Roma official website