Europa League: Atalanata unbeaten, Roma finishes second. Fiorentina in the Conference round of 16

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By John

Roma-Sheriff 3-0
Markers: 11′ pt Lukaku, 32′ pt Belotti, 48′ pt Pisilli.
ROME (3-5-2): Svilar 7; Celik 6.5, Cristante 6.5, Llorente 6.5 (16′ st Paredes 6); Karsdorp 6, Renato Sanches 6.5 (16′ st Pagano 6), Bove 7, Aouar 6 (1′ st El Shaarawy 6), Zalewski 7.5 (40′ st Mannini sv); Lukaku 7, Belotti 7 (28′ st Pisilli 7). On the bench: Rui Patricio, Boer, Pellegrini, Cherubini, Vetkal, Joao Costa, Plaia. Coach: Mourinho 6.5.
SHERIFF (3-5-2): Koval 5.5; Apostolakis 4 (36′ st Zohouri 5), Tovar 5, Garananga 5; Badolo 5 (40′ st Vardar sv), Talal 6, Ricardinho 6, Fernandes 5.5, Artunduaga 5.5; Mbekeli 5, Ankeye 5 (27′ st Luvannor 5). On the bench: Straistari, Pascenco, Paiva, Colis, Novicov. Coach: Pylypchuk 6.
REFEREE: Brisard (Fra) 6.
NOTE: clear evening, ground in good condition. Booked: Talal, Bove. Corners: 8-2. Recovery time: 3′; 3′.

Roma beat Sheriff 3-0 but they finished Group G of the Europa League in second place, behind Slavia Prague who overwhelmed Servette 4-0 and secured the top spot. In a packed Olimpico, goals from Lukaku, Belotti and baby Pisilli were not enough to allow the Giallorossi to directly access the round of 16 and avoid the playoff against the Champions League third-placed teams. Not a surprise, given that Roma’s hopes of supremacy were reduced to a minimum. First of all, a misstep from Slavia was needed, which didn’t happen: in case of defeat, a victory would have been enough regardless of the size. With the Czechs drawing, however, the Giallorossi should have won by more than four goals (or with a margin of four, but exceeding the goals scored by Slavia in the group). However, Roma believes in it in front of 60,000 spectators. Ready, go and Karsdorp comes close to scoring after 5′. In the 11th minute it was Lukaku who broke the deadlock by scoring a precise assist from Zalewski. The Polish winger also inspired the second goal in the 32nd minute: his attempted lob into the area was deflected by goalkeeper Koval and became an invitation for Belotti’s header into an empty net.

Roma took few risks. A save by Svilar on Ankeye in the 38th minute allowed the Giallorossi to go to the locker room at 2-0, while Aouar’s injury (replaced at half-time by El Shaarawy) was the only discordant note of the first half. The second half of the game, given the result favorable to Slavia on the other pitch, is purely about management. There is also room for the younger ones, like Pagano, Mannini and Pisilli. And it was the latter in injury time who sealed the 3-0 with a right-footed shot that ended in the net with a slight deviation from a defender. Little changes for the purposes of the second place finish. These are the possible opponents of the Giallorossi in the draw on 18 December for the play-off: Galatasaray, Lens, Braga, Benfica, Feyenoord, Young Boys and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Rakow-Atalanta 0-4
NETWORKS: 14’pt, 27’st Muriel, 26’pt Bonfanti, 47th st De Ketelaere.
RAKOW (3-4-3): V. Kovacevic 5.5; Racovitan 5, A. Kovacevic 5, Jean Carlos 4.5 (33’st Sorescu 6); Tudor 5.5, Berggren 5, Kochergin 4.5 (16’st Cebula 6), Plavsic 5; Yeboah 4.5 (16’st Crnac 6), Zwolinski 5 (36’st Piasecki sv), Nowak 5 (36’st Kittel sv). On the bench: Tsiftsis, Mras. Coach: Szwarga 5.
ATALANTA (3-4-3): Carnesecchi 7 (39’st Rossi sv); Hateboer 6.5, Bonfanti 7, Del Lungo 7; Holm 6.5 (39’st Palestra sv), Pasalic 6.5, Adopo 6 (47’st Mendicino sv), Zortea 6.5; Miranchuk 7 (44’st De Nipoti sv), Muriel 7.5 (45’st Cisse sv), De Ketelaere 6.5. On the bench: Vismara, Colombo, Manzoni, Ceresoli, Bonanomi. Coach: Gasperini 7.
REFEREE: Jorgji (Albania) 6.
NOTE: playing field in good condition. Spectators: 10,386. Booked: Holm, Tudor, Bonfanti. Angles: 6-6. Recovery: 1’pt, 4’st.

No experiments, but just a victory, the second in a row after the one against Milan. Atalanta won 4-0 against Rakow thanks to Muriel’s brace and goals from Bonfanti and De Ketelaere, the Nerazzurri finished Group D unbeaten with 14 points and four victories. Gian Piero Gasperini’s team, rather than thinking about the result already achieved, tried to propose their own game, as reiterated on the eve of the Nerazzurri coach. It took Muriel 14 minutes to find the opening goal after Miranchuk’s suggestion, Bonfanti scored in the 26th minute: the defender making his debut in the Europa League found the first goal after a series of rebounds in the Polish area. The reaction from Szwarga’s men was timid, almost passive: Muriel himself came close to scoring with his back-heel (ball on the post), Bergren a few minutes later tried to scare the Nerazzurri with a shot from the spot which ended high. In the second half the hosts were unable to find the goal to reopen the match, the best opportunity came twenty minutes from the end with Crnac who kicked a sure shot but found Carnesecchi’s foot. Immediately afterwards, in the 27th minute of the second half, Muriel scored his 12th goal (on an error by Jean Carlos) in Europe, becoming Atalanta’s best scorer in continental competitions. In the final, the Nerazzurri coach gave space to other young players, including De Nipoti, Cisse and Palestra. The hosts tried to save the score, but in the end De Ketelaere, with a diagonal shot from inside the penalty area, dropped the poker. The Nerazzurri finish in first place and fly to the round of 16, a result already achieved in the last round, while the Poles say goodbye to Europe: Sturm Graz will go to the Conference League

CONFERENCE LEAGUE

Ferencvaros-Fiorentina 1-1
NETWORKS: 3′ st Zachariassen, 28′ st Ranieri.
FERENCVAROS (4-2-3-1): Dibusz 6; Makreckis 6, Cissè 6.5, Aaneba 6, Civic 6 (20′ st Botka 6); Abu Fani 6, Results 5.5 (34′ st Ben Romdhane sv); Katona 7 (34′ st Besic sv), Zachariassen 6.5, Marquinhos 6.5; B. Varga 5.5 (13′ st Lisztes 5.5). On the bench: A. Varga, Radnoti, Owusu, Siger, Paszka, Pesic. Coach: Stankovic 6.5.
FIORENTINA (4-2-3-1): Christensen 6.5; Kayode 5.5, Milenkovic 6, Ranieri 6.5, Parisi 6; Lopez 6, Mandragora 5.5 (18′ st Nzola 5.5); Gonzalez sv (20′ st Ikonè 5.5), Barak 6, Brekalo 5 (18′ st Kouamè); Beltran 5.5. On the bench: Terraciano, Vannucchi, Infantino, Mina, Martinez Quarta, Comuzzo, Pierozzi, Amatucci. Coach: Italian 6.5.
REFEREE: Luis Godinho (POR) 6.5.
NOTE: partly cloudy sky, terrain in good condition. Booked: Mandragora, Milenkovic, Cissè. Corners: 5-2 for Fiorentina. Recovery: 2′; 3′.

Fiorentina finishes in first place in Group F of the Europa Conference League ahead of Ferencvaros and goes directly to the round of 16. In the sixth and final match of the group, Vincenzo Italiano’s team drew 1-1 on the Hungarians’ pitch in Bupadest. At the Groupama Arena, the match struggled to take off even though the second half saw a decidedly livelier match. Fiorentina paid the price for bad luck at the start of the match with the muscle injury of Nico Gonzalez who, before getting hurt and being replaced, had transformed himself into an assist-man by serving Mandragora in the 9th minute, but the midfielder had seen his shot blocked left by the home goalkeeper. In a first half in which opportunities were reduced to a minimum, Ferencvaros came close to doubling the lead twice in a few seconds in the 34th minute: from Civic’s feet the ball reached Katona who with an insidious low shot challenged Christensen and on the Civic himself tried to block the goalkeeper with a tap-in that the Fiorentina Dane raised over the crossbar. The second half, however, ignited immediately thanks to the home team’s lead scored by the Norwegian Zachariassen in the 3rd minute: in an attempt to stop Marquinhos, Lopez released Abu Fani who, on a cross deflected by Milenkovic, found the ball in the center of the area. ‘ex Rosenborg who, of first intention, put the ball in the net with his left foot. In the 10th minute the chance for the Viola equalizer came from a header by Milenkovic who went just wide, while nine minutes later it was once again Christensen who was providential by putting a left-footed shot into the corner at Katoma’s near post. Fiorentina’s equalizer instead came in the 28th minute with Ranieri: from Lopez’s corner, Milenkovic’s header was blocked by Makreckis and ended up near the defender, who was stationed at the far post and did well to beat goalkeeper Dibusz with his right foot for the final 1-1 goal. Fiorentina first in the group and directly into the Conference round of 16.