A.S Roma secured a last-second winner against Bologna F.C at the Renato Dall'Ara pushing them into the top 4 of the Serie A table for the first time this season.
In what was a sometimes dull, but hotly contested match with seven yellow cards, and Gianluca Mancini sent off for the Giallorossi, Edin Dzeko was the hero once again as his header with the last kick of the game won all the points.
Story of the Game
Roma had come into the game with a wave of confidence having scored eight goals in their previous two games earlier in the week but were in tough against a resolute Bologna side fighting for their ill manager Siniša Mihajlović.
After only three matchdays though the Romans were looking up at their provincial opponents Bologna in the standings, thus taking all three points were essential for the capital club.
Bologna were given a boost before the game from Mihajlovic providing the pre-game team talk from his hospital bed, where he is receiving treatment for leukaemia. It's clear this season that they're taking strength from their manager, and dedicating every minute on the pitch to him.
It was clear from the outset that Bologna's approach to the game was to sit back, stay compact around their own box frustrating their opponents, and then try to hit them on the break. For the majority of the game it worked, especially in the first half.
Bologna were not able to get a foot on the ball as Roma camped inside their half knocking the ball around confidently, but not quick enough to get in behind the hosts' backline.
With Bologna sitting on the top of the 18-yard box the majority of Roma's play were coming down the flanks from the full-backs, and specifically Aleksandar Kolarov.
In one of the few attacking moves of the half the ball was spread wide to the left for Kolarov, who drove in a decent cross, but before Dzeko could tap it home Bologna goalkeeper Łukasz Skorupski gathered it up.
The lone genuine piece of decent play from Roma saw a sweeping move from back to front started by Pau Lopez. A series of passes by the entire backline and midfield combined to shift the ball to Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who wonderfully switched the ball to Alessandro Florenzi. Then combining with Lorenzo Pellegrini at the top of the Bologna box a lovely backheel freed Florenzi who's shot struck a Bologna player to go out for a corner.
A rather drab first half was whistled with 2 minutes of stoppage time played to leave the sides going into halftime level at 0-0.
The second half started the exact opposite of the first as Pellegrini won a free-kick right on the edge of the box, which Kolarov then dutifully stroked home with ease at the 49th minute. The 33 year old Serbian has made a steady habit of tucking away free kicks and has the most in Serie A since his move to Rome.
While he may be a gift at the offensive end of the pitch he can often be a liability at the back when defending, as Kolarov was adjudged to have brought down Roberto Soriano in the box during the 53rd minute. The call was a bit controversial as on some replays it shows Kolarov getting a piece of the ball before taking down the man, but VAR did not intervene.
The resulting penalty kick was then tucked away by Nicola Sansone for Bologna after the Roma players had been protesting their innocence.
After getting a boost from equalizing the game Bologna went on to put Roma under considerable pressure, and for a time looked the more likely to take the lead.
In the 60th minute, Bologna cut the Roma defence apart, as Pellegrini lost the ball in midfield, and a quick series of interplay found Soriano alone 8 yards out from goal. However, Lopez came up with an absolutely miraculous reflex save to keep the score level at 1-1.
The game was becoming more and more contentious as Bologna's confidence drove Roma to continuously rack up yellow cards in frustration. It was only a matter of time until someone was sent off, and this resulted in Roma's Gianluca Mancini picking up his second yellow of the afternoon in the 85th minute with a foul on the edge of the box on Federico Santander with a dangerous elbow.
Just when it looked like Bologna were to be the more likely winner in the match Roma produced a bit of magic that they were sorely lacking throughout the 90 minutes.
A clever piece of play saw Roma win a free-kick just inside their half of the pitch, which was then quickly taken by substitute Juan Jesus to Veretout. With only 11 seconds left of stoppage time to play, Veretout went on an absolutely mesmerizing run from his own half to the edge of the Bologna box. Then finding Pellegrini just on the inside of the right side of the box he clipped in an absolutely beautiful cross, which was then guided home by Dzeko with the last touch of the match.
It wasn't the most beautiful game of football played, but Roma will take a lot of confidence from getting all three points in a difficult ground, not to mention the manner in which they won.
Man of the Match
It's difficult to pick out a man of the match, as the play was at times stifled and boring. If he were not to have given away the penalty for Bologna to equalize the easy answer would be Aleks Kolarov, who was dictating almost all of Roma's play on the left-hand side as if he was playing left wing. However, after clumsily gifting Bologna the equalizer he put his side under tremendous pressure.
In such a dull affair it's only just to pick out one of the three men involved in the match-winning goal, and most of the credit is due to Jordan Veretout.
The driving runs from his own side of the centre circle one in which he rode several challenges while staying on his feet, and still having the energy to calmly slide a perfect pass into the path of Pellegrini must be applauded.