Roma ended their dreadful run against their closest rivals with a magnificent 2-0 victory over Lazio in the Derby della Capitale on Saturday, as coach Paulo Fonseca leaves on a high.
The Portuguese tactician took charge of his final home game before making way for compatriot Jose Mourinho next season, and led seventh-placed Roma to a first win over a team above them all season.
Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro gave the Giallorossi the bragging rights in the capital, as Roma were dominant over Lazio.
Fonseca has seen his Roma project unravel in recent months, but Lupi’s statement victory showed that there is plenty for Mourinho to work with when he returns to Italy, with his former Manchester United midfielder Mkhitaryan hitting form, reserve goalkeeper Daniel Fuzato impressing, and Rick Karsdorp excellent.
However, the brightest spark came from teenage midfielder Ebrima Darboe and he gave the Giallorossi solidity and composure that has been lacking for much of the campaign. With Fonseca throwing him in over the past few weeks, he could yet be the coach’s most important legacy.
Elsewhere, reverting to a 4-2-3-1 formation and abandoning Fonseca’s favoured 3-5-2 allowed Roma to negate Lazio’s midfield threat whilst giving greater balance in midfield, and the coach showed greater flexibility than in the 3-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture.
A difficult season is coming to a close for Fonseca and the former Shakhtar Donetsk coach has handled the transition with dignity and professionalism. In the most important game of all in the Italian capital, his players finally gave him the win he has deserved.
Fonseca’s final match at the helm of the Lupi will come against Spezia on Sunday, but the Portuguese bid goodbye to the Olimpico with a victory he will surely savour.
Meanwhile, Roma’s star man on the night was veteran striker Edin Dzeko, with the Bosnian providing a wonderful assist for Mkhitaryan and forcing Francesco Acerbi into a late red card.
Whilst his future remains undecided amidst interest from Antonio Conte and Inter, victory in the Derby had a sense of a farewell to the prolific 35-year-old, and in a touching moment, he departed the pitch in a late substitution to a standing ovation from his teammates.
Like Fonseca, who he infamously fell out with in January, if this is to be Dzeko’s final appearance for Roma at the Stadio Olimpico then he certainly bowed out in style.