Italian Football

Dybala Architects Gli Azzurri’s Downfall –

Roma scored a tough 2-1 away win over Empoli on Monday to get back on the winning ways after a few disappointing results. Stadio Carlo Castellani had an even game, but the individual quality of the visitors eventually turned the tables in Jose Mourinho’s favour.

After a disastrous 4-0 defeat at Udinese and a 2-1 Europa League loss to Ludogorets, Roma are out to regain some confidence. The same is true of Empoli, who went into action in pursuit of their first Serie A win in 2022/23 after a five-game unbeaten start.

Unfortunately for Paolo Zanetti’s side, a huge quality gap made the difference as Empoli suffered their second defeat in six Serie A matches (D4). Meanwhile, his hard-earned victory put Roma back on track, and helped them stay within one point of Napoli.

Just a few minutes into the match, Paulo Dybala got a great opportunity to break the deadlock. The Argentine seized a loose ball inside the six-yard area, only to see his half rattle off the left post. However, the Gypsies continued to put pressure on them and it eventually paid off.

Dybala opened the scoring with a fine finish from outside the box. He received a rebound and led it to the upper right corner of Guglielmo Vicario’s goal, leaving the Empoli goalkeeper without any chance. As has been the case on several occasions this term, Mourinho immediately regained his forces to defend a narrow advantage.

Empoli controlled the ball and created two decent chances to score but struggled for the finishing touch. At least until the 43rd minute when Filippo Bandinelli sent in a brilliant cross from Petar Stojanovic to secure a 1-1 first-half tie.

However, the host team appeared to run out of steam in the second half as Roma regained control of the match. The visitors’ relentless attempt to regain the lead paid dividends midway through the second half, with striker Tammy Abraham scoring a superb cross pass from Dybala to the far post.

Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini had the chance to put a stop to the match in the 80th minute. But the Italian midfielder hit the trees with a penalty, putting Empoli the lifeblood of this match. Zanetti’s men came close to embracing it as Jean-Daniel Akpa Akbaru, on loan from Lazio, hit the ball from the near post just minutes later.

Substitute Andrea Belotti, the second-half substitute, then missed another clear chance to finish the match, as Vicario advanced hard to deny him a head-to-head play. But in the end, Roma came back with three precious points, leaving Empoli to flirt with the relegation zone.

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