Cengiz Under turns in stellar performance to lead Roma past Benevento
Roma moved into the top four in the Serie A table thanks to a stellar second half performance from Cengiz Under, who turned a drab match against rock-bottom Benevento into a much-needed win that got his side back in the goals and back above Lazio.
The 20-year-old Turkey international assisted Edin Dzeko on for the simplest of headers that put the Giallorossi ahead 2-1 in the 60th minute after conceding a surprise early opener from Benevento’s Guilherme. Just two minutes after the second score, Under stroked home the third from a Diego Perotti pass to seal the three points. The icing on the cake for Under and Roma came 15 minutes from time, when fed by Gerson, he shifted the ball to his left and whipped the hosts’ fourth goal past Christian Puggioni.
A consolation effort for Enrico Brignola and Gregiore Defrel’s first Roma goal in injury time gave a decided match a bit of late entertainment. Federico Fazio should be praised for the bullet header that steadied the ship following the shock of going behind so early to the league’s worst team.
Under now has three goals in two matches following his rocket of a winner at Verona. Coach Eusebio Di Francesco owes his young charge a pat on the back for relieving some of the pressure that was piling on his shoulders.
The second half was so much better than the first it was like watching another match. Roma players stopped dawdling on the ball, shifted it around Benevento, freed up Dzeko and created chances. Under found himself in so much space that he could have had three touches before shooting rather than hitting it the first time. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a move as slick as the one that led to his first goal.
The first half was a continuation of the same dreary football that has plagued Stadio Olimpico for the best part of three months; with stagnant attacking and an equaliser that came from a set-piece rather than decent play. Bearing in mind that Benevento are not very good … well that’s not very good.
6 — Di Francesco changed his side’s starting formation to a 4-2-3-1 that initially looked as bland as the 4-3-3. Once his players got motoring, however, it looked like a setup that offered more depth and structure to the team. It’s hard to tell whether it’s something that can be used against teams that play better than Benevento.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 6 — Couldn’t be blamed for either of Benevento’s goals and, other than that, had nothing to do.
DF Alessandro Florenzi, 5 — Looked completely lacking in confidence and out of sorts. Crossed all over the place and his positioning was suspect.
DF Kostas Manolas, 5 — Was not at his best and was unlucky to have Guilherme’s shot deflect off him and squirm past Alisson.
DF Federico Fazio, 6 — Despite a great header to get Roma level, a centre-back that conceded two goals to Benevento can’t be happy.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 6 — A humdrum display enlivened by his superb cross for Fazio’s equaliser.
MF Gerson, 6 — Helped Roma dominate possession and push the away side back.
MF Kevin Strootman, 6 — It’s not an insult to say that he carried the water, despite what Eric Cantona says.
MF Cengiz Under, 8 — A beautiful brace and a wonderful assist for Dzeko that turned the game in Roma’s favour. Pretty good for a youngster.
MF Diego Perotti, 6 — Laid on Under for his well-taken second, but other than that didn’t excite in behind Dzeko.
MF Stephan El Shaarawy, 5 — Willing as ever but was imprecise in attack.
FW Edin Dzeko, 6 — A goal but very little else. Looks half the player he was earlier in the season.
AM Gregoire Defrel, 6 — His stoppage time penalty was just reward for a positive performance off the bench.
MF Daniele De Rossi, N/R — Time enough to bask in the applause of his people.
AM Patrick Schick, N/R — An eventful jog after recovering from his muscle injury.
Terry is based in Rome and is ESPN FC’s AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley