AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho picked the XI we expected. Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano opted for Igor in central defense and Youssef Maleh in midfield. Despite the heat in the capital, it was hard not to get goosebumps, not just from the new season but from the prospect of fans in the stands, even if the Viola ultras weren’t able to make the trip in full force.
The Viola got things off to a strong start, pinging the ball around and stretching the hosts, but Bartłomiej Drągowski undid it with a headlong charge into Tammy Abraham outside the box, earning himself a straight red after 17 minutes, although it sure looked like the defense was in a covering position and the contact wasn’t anything dangerous.
It took Abraham another 10 minutes to find Henrikh Mkhitaryan to poke home despite looking well offside and needing a long check from VAR that rather surprised everyone, including the Giallorossi.
Tammy Abraham making an immediate impact for Roma.— Sacha Pisani (@Sachk0) August 22, 2021
After his pace got Fiorentina goalkeeper Dragowski sent off, perfect pass teed up Mkhitaryan’s opener.
There was also a neat moment when he dummied the ball for Pellegrini.
Despite being short-handed, Fiorentina had a couple of chances, none more obvious than Giacomo Bonaventura turning brilliantly but dallying on the ball before shooting from close range with Dušan Vlahović steaming in at the back post, but Roma were clearly in control and trying to slow things down for the rest of the half.
If you expected Mourinho to have his charges kill the game off, you were very surprised. First, Nicolò Zaniolo was sent off for a third bookable offense.
Zaniolo is sent off after being shown his second yellow card.— Serie A on Paramount+ ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 22, 2021
SEVEN red cards so far in Serie A opening weekend. pic.twitter.com/9oTRnH6lBx
It took 8 more minutes for recently-renewed Nikola Milenković to score Fiorentina’s first of the season with a really, really splendid finish off an Erick Pulgar cross that made him look more like a top class striker than a central defender.
ASISTENCIA DE ERICK | Erick Pulgar ( /27) dio una asistencia a N. Milenkovic para anotar el empate 1-1 de la Fiorentina ⚜️ ante la Roma . Aquí tienes el video ⤵️pic.twitter.com/ya1lBBDCfq— Hora Del Futbol (@horadel_futbol) August 22, 2021
That opened the game right back up, and both sides had chances on the break as the Viola (perhaps naively) committed numbers forward. Roma made it count when Jordan Veretout rounded off a quick counterattack, although for the second time, it sure looked like Abraham had strayed offside in the buildup despite VAR official Paolo Mazzoleni’s confirmation. There was also more than a hint of a foul in how Mkhitaryan won the ball of Pulgar in the buildup, but hey.
TAMMY ABRAHAM GETS ANOTHER ASSIST ️ ️— (@RomaGateway) August 22, 2021
Mkhitaryan wins the ball in the middle, plays it to Tammy down the right. Tammy plays a superb ball across goal and it's finished by Veretout #RomaFiorentina #ASRoma
Now hurling numbers forward, Fiorentina were undone after Vlahović went over too easily in the box, allowing Roma to break the other way. Eldor Shomurodov drove forward and fed Veretout again; the Frenchman slammed it home and refused to celebrate against his former club for the second time; at least there was no offside this time.
Goals: Mkhitaryan 26’ (ass. Abraham), Veretout 64’ (ass. Abraham) 79’ (ass. Shomurodov); Milenković 60’ (ass. Pulgar)
Cards: Pellegrini 12’, Zaniolo 44’ 52’; Drągowski red card 17’, Bonaventura 45’+3, Pulgar 53’
Fiorentina get their home opener next week against Torino, although they’ll likely be without Bart (and the ultras in the Curva, who’ve decided not to return en masse until attendance restrictions are lifted) as they hunt their first points of the Italiano era. Roma, meanwhile, will head south to take on newcomers Salernitana.