Roma 1, Genoa 0: Lukaku Goal Secures 6th Place, Europa League Spot

roma 1, genoa 0: lukaku goal secures 6th place, europa league spot

Roma's round 37 match against the Genoa Cricket and Football Club may have lacked any direct Champions League implications. Still, if the Giallorossi had a prayer of backdooring their way into the CL via Atalanta winning the Europa League (and also finishing 5th in Serie A), they had to defeat Genoa today at the Stadio Olimpico.

The big question ahead of today's fixture was whether or not Paulo Dybala would start for Roma. With La Joya nursing another minor injury, young Tommaso Baldanzi took his place in the starting lineup for today's tilt, the final home match of the season.

Without Dybala, it was fair to question where Roma's creative spark would come this afternoon. The smart money was on Baldanzi, who was occupying Dybala's customary position on the pitch, but I'm not sure many would have predicted Romelu Lukaku floating a tempting cross to Lorenzo Pellegrini as the first chance of the match.

Unfortunately, that surprisingly deft play from Lukaku didn't augur an attacking deluge from the Giallorossi. Despite pressing extremely high up the pitch and moving the ball fluidly in the final third, De Rossi's men couldn't quite get the final move down pat.

While Baldanzi, Pellegrini, and Lukaku pinged the ball back and forth in tight spaces, the final product was lacking, as Roma's shots sailed high and wide more often than not. Perhaps the best chance of the first half saw Baldanzi and Pellegrini work a tidy give-and-go in the penalty area, with the diminutive Baldanzi ripping a shot high and wide.

Overwhelmed by the glut of red shirts in their end of the pitch, Genoa struggled to mount a counter-attack, mustering only three shots in the first half. Still, they nearly caught a lucky break when Evan Ndicka almost coughed up an own goal. Fortunately, Mile Svilar was perfectly positioned to turn the ball away—in fact, he had to make a double save, scrambling to smother a rebound attempt.

So dull was the first half that it ended without a shred of stoppage time, setting the stage for a decisive second half.

While the second 45 was neither swift nor decisive, Roma stuck to their guns, pressing high up the pitch in an effort to catch Genoa napping in the final third. And just like the first half, Roma did everything well, except for the last bit—scoring a goal or even creating a clear-cut chance.

For most of the second half, Roma moved the ball as they pleased but managed little more than haphazard shots from the edge of the box. What little creativity they did muster came from Angeliño on the left flank. The Spanish full-back set up three shots, providing the only viable service Lukaku received for most of the evening.

With an hour come and gone and the Genoa low-block continuing to stifle Roma's attempts in the box, De Rossi went to the bench in the 63rd minute, bringing Dybala and Stephan El Shaaray into the mix.

However, not long after that change, Roma went down to 10 men after one of the stranger double yellow card sequences you'll likely witness. Seemingly upset at his side not receiving a call, Paredes threw his hand up in disgust, drawing the first yellow before getting hit with a second yellow seconds later for his reaction to the first yellow.

Only in Italy, folks.

With approximately 15 minutes left to play, Roma were in danger of dropping points in their sixth straight match. The Champions League quest may have come and gone, but no one wants to head into the summer on such a sour note.

And just as he's done so many times this season, Lukaku rose to the occasion, beating two defenders to the spot and redirecting an El Shaarawy floater past Josep Martinez.

But it wasn't all good news for Lukaku, who drew a yellow card in the 79th minute, meaning he'll miss next week's season finale against Empoli due to accumulated yellows. Taking that step further, given his uncertain status for next season, this was likely Lukaku’s last match in Giallo e Rosso.

In the end, a ten-man Roma survived Genoa's late onslaught to walk away with all three points, locking down sixth place and a spot in next season's Europa League in the process.

Final Thoughts

The win may have lacked European intrigue, but it was nice to see Roma come out on top once again, especially after such a slow and frustrating match. As we just mentioned, today's victory secured sixth place for Roma, who hold the head-to-head advantage over seventh place Lazio, who trail their city rivals by three points.

Up Next

Roma closes out the 2023-2024 season on Sunday against 18th-place Empoli, who will be battling for their Serie A lives.

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