It may have taken a last-gasp wonder strike, but Roma ended the weekend top of the Serie A table and maintained their perfect start to life under Jose Mourinho.
The Lupi emerged as 2-1 winners over Sassuolo at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening, as a sensational Stephan El Shaarawy half-volley flicked the inside of the far post before nestling in, just as it looked as though Roma were slipping to a draw.
It sees Roma secure maximum points from their opening three league matches, coupled with home and away victories over Trabzonspor in Europa Conference League qualifying and the Giallorossi have hit the ground running in the new season.
Mourinho, in his 1000th game as a coach, was at his box office best, sprinting down the Olimpico running track to dive into the celebrations with his players in front of the Curva Sud after El Shaarawy’s winner.
The Portuguese has made an immediate impact in the capital since replacing compatriot Paulo Fonseca and Roma now look resolute in defence and dangerous in attack, winning the matches that they would have otherwise surrendered last season.
Bryan Cristante had earlier given Mourinho’s side a first half lead before Filip Djuricic cancelled it out shortly after the break, and it was Sassuolo who enjoyed the better of the second period in a thrilling encounter.
Yet, Roma kept on pushing for a winner and El Shaarawy found it with a moment of wizardry, as La Magica’s resolve saw them eventually overcome a hugely impressive Sassuolo side and leapfrog AC Milan at the top of the table. On a weekend where Juventus, Lazio, and Atalanta all lost, and champions Inter dropped points, an opening was there to be taken and Roma duly snatched it.
It is early days yet, but the Giallorossi appear to have fully bought into Mourinho’s ideas and have benefitted from the presence of such a huge personality on the touchline, whilst the former Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United boss has rediscovered his spark after a disappointing spell in the Premier League.
Mourinho has elevated key players such as captain Lorenzo Pellegrini and Cristante, whilst the signings of Tammy Abraham and Rui Patricio, from Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively, look inspired.
Whilst it’s too early to say if Roma can maintain a concerted push for the Scudetto, optimism is high in the red and yellow half of the capital and the team are riding the wave of excitement generated by the Special One’s appointment in May. The Giallorossi were fragile and easy to beat last term, but Mourinho has already set about making this team one to keep a close eye on at the top end of the table.