It has turned into a little bit of a mixed week for AS Roma striker Romelu Lukaku. The 30 year old loan Chelsea attacker is enjoying a good season under Jose Mourinho once again as he puts a few previous difficulties behind him, and he has certainly rediscovered his scoring touch – but in recent games against Fiorentina and FC Sheriff, he has again seen the best and worst of himself come to the fore.
Having not scored as Roma took victory against Sassuolo at the beginning of December, the Belgian international was back on the scoresheet against Fiorentina in the 1-1 draw, but having given the Giallorossi a five minute lead, the opposition equalised and Lukaku hampered their attempts to take the lead again as he found himself red carded in the 87th minute as they held on to a point that many fans in Serie A would say they had not earned given the visitors basically dominated the game.
He was given a straight red card for a studs up foul on Christian Kouame just three minutes from the end of play, but in stoppage time Fiorentina also saw themselves reduced to ten men as Nikola Milenkovic was also dismissed in a typically feisty Italian game.
The result did little for their Scudetto hopes given the make up of the domestic top flight table, but a 3-0 victory over Sheriff Tiraspol in their Group G Europa League clash would have raised spirits again, and Lukaku was again the first player to score as he opened the deadlock on eleven minutes as they travelled to a far more comfortable victory over the 90 minutes.
He even helped himself to a stoppage time assist for their third.
The goal was his 20th effort in the last 17 matches he has featured in, and it secured a knockout spot in the Play Off rounds for Mourinho’s side, as they finished second in the group – with Slavia Prague progressing through as group winners.
Having been last year’s runners up, they now face one of the sides who drops down from the Champions League having only managed to finish third in those group stage battles.
As for Lukaku directly, it simply keeps his extremely impressive European record going – nobody has scored more this year as he has five from six, and back in the Slavia Prague encounter in October, he scored in his 14th consecutive Europa League encounter.
There is unlikely to be business done in January, but many in Serie A will be amazed if Roma do not pick him up permanently again, as given Chelsea’s spending, Roma (or another side) could try and low ball them on a permanent fee.