The old cliché of a game of two halves was never more appropriate than tonight as Fiorentina saw total first half dominance and a 1-0 half time lead thanks to a Mario Gomez goal turn into a 1-1 draw in the game at the Franchi. Rudi Garcia must have said something productive during the half time team talk Roma as came out of the blocks like their lives depended on it, former Fiorentina man Ljajic hitting back for the visitors on 49 minutes.
Fiorentina started brightly with a 4th minute shot from Cuadrado and on 6 minutes a good cross from Pasqual to Gomez was only stopped by referee Luca Banti for a suspect foul on Roma ‘keeper De Sanctis. More chances and total Fiorentina dominance followed, with a great ball from Pizarro leading to Cuadrado being ruled just offside and a well worked corner taken by Mati Fernandez being headed over the bar by De Rossi.
The dominance paid off in the 20th Minute - after some nice build up play around the box, Mario Gomez, in a perfect position just outside the six yard box, diverted a Pizarro shot past De Sanctis with his left foot, scoring a confidence boosting third goal in two games. Fiorentina pressed high after the goal, closing the ball down quickly and looking for the land the sucker punch of a second goal - Basanta shot just wide only two minutes later. Committing fouls was the only response Roma could provide at this point, the referee doling out two yellow cards in as many minutes to Holebas and Yanga-Mbiwa. Roma's front players looked isolated, and the defence unable to cope with Pizarro in central midfield and Joaquin's great work on the right hand side. A rare Roma counter attack was quickly broken up by Pasqual on the half hour and after that they were reduced to half chances by a well organised Fiorenina defence, Ljajic trying to catch out Tatarusanu at the near post, but only managing to shoot straight at him. However, Fiorentina would live to regret not converting any of their stream of chances which included Tomovic shooting just wide on 38 minutes and Mati Fernandez' first half concluding shot.
Roma, who of late seemingly only turn up at half time, slightly changed the tactics by dropping Ljajic slightly behind the front two of Iturbe and Totti. A harsh free kick against Basanta for handball straight from the kick off saw Ljajic shoot straight at Tatarusanu. Then, an excellent crossfield ball from Totti found Iturbe who turned Basanta inside out and squared it to Ljajic. The former Fiorentina man duly obliged with a goal, sending the ball past the flapping leg of Tomovic. The rejuvenated Roma were now much sharper and tighter on the ball and looked like a completely different team; Totti and Iturbe combining well again to force a good save from Tatarusanu on 57.
A shell shocked Fiorentina needed to retain their grasp on the game. A sucession of poor deliveries from Manuel Pasqual around the hour mark saw him withdrawn by Montella and Marcos Alonso brought on in his place. His team mates had obviously come to the same conclusion as just before il capitano left he field the play switched flank to Joaquin who made much better use of the ball, getting to the byline and creating a good chance. The change of system at that point to a 4-3-3 to attempt to subdue Roma's dangerous front three helped la Viola to regain some control of the game. The ineffectual Kurtic replaced Mati Fernandez on 63' and goalscorer Gomez was also substituted for Babacar on 78' however, this time there was no late goal from the Senegalese striker. Tomovic had a good chance to score as full time approached but the near post shot but De Sanctis easily beat it away for a corner.
Was it a good result to second in the table Roma? Yes. Would most people have considered a draw a good result before the game? Yes. Is it a massive disappointment not to take the three points? Definitely. After the complete whitewash in the first half, there was nothing on my mind at half time other than a victory. Although Roma were markedly different in the second half, they were nowhere near as dominant as la Viola had been in the first and I thought that a win would not have been undeserved. Having said that to be just outside the Champions league places and just three points away from 3rd placed Lazio is pleasing at this point. And Mario scored again. Onwards and upwards!
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Tata 7 Tomo 6.5 Gonzalo 7 Basanta 5 Joaquín 6.5 Mati 6 Pek 6.5 Borja 6 Pasqual 5.5 Cuadrado 6 Gomez 6.5 Montella 6-</p>— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="https://twitter.com/Viola_Nation/status/559467191557693441">January 25, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>