A second half double from Roma’s teenage sensation Nicolo Zaniolo earned his side a 2-1 win over Porto in their Champions League last 16 first leg clash on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old found the net twice in six minutes to give his side a comfortable lead, but substitute Adrian Lopez’s away goal means the tie is far from over going into the second leg in Portugal.
It took 38 minutes for the first effort of note to arrive as Edin Dzeko raced onto a clipped ball into the channel, cut inside a defender towards the edge of the six yard box and fired a powerful shot off the near post.
Roma broke the deadlock through Zaniolo on 70 minutes when he raced onto a lay-off from Dzeko to fire low into the corner.
Just six minutes later he doubled his team’s tally and Dzeko was the creator again, firing a long range shot off the post for Zaniolo to tap in and become the youngest Italian to score two goals in a Champions League match.
However, Lopez latched onto an sliced shot and found the net with 10 minutes remaining to give his side a lifeline ahead of the second leg on Wednesday 6 March in Portugal.
De Rossi makes the difference
Roma look an entirely different prospect with their skipper anchoring the midfield. De Rossi won plaudits for his performance in the 1-1 draw with Milan at the start of the month, a game that Roma dominated, and he was again at the heart of things in a more composed performance from his team.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s midfield has been overrun far too often this season, but with De Rossi sitting in front of the defence, the likes of Lorenzo Pellegrini and Bryan Cristante have more licence to roam forward without risk of a counter attack immediately exposing them.
Roma fielded seven Italians in their starting line-up against Porto, the most any Italian team has picked in nine years, and while Roberto Mancini sitting in the stands will have been happy to see young Zaniolo continue his superb season, De Rossi showed that experience can be just as valuable as youth.