With Edin Dzeko having an off night, Lorenzo Pellegrini stepped up for Roma in the Champions League.
The Italy midfielder scored one goal and set up another as Roma beat 10-man CSKA Moscow 2-1 on Wednesday.
Since losing their opening group game 3-0 to Real Madrid, Roma have won three in a row and only need one more victory to put qualification for the knockout stages beyond doubt. Madrid thrashed 5-0 Plzen in Group G’s other game later on Wednesday.
Lorenzo Pellegrini (centre) restored Roma’s lead minutes after they conceded an equaliser
Pellegrini (right) fires home Roma’s second goal of the game to make it 2-1 in Russia
CSKA midfielder Arnor Sigurdsson (No 17) celebrates his equaliser with his team-mates
Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen was unable to keep out Sigurdsson’s shot in the second half
The hosts celebrate their equaliser as the Russian fans applaud their side on Wednesday
Roma defender Kostas Manolas broke the deadlock inside five minutes on Wednesday evening
CSKA MOSCOW (4-3-2-1): Akinfeev; Fernandes (Schennikov 12), Becao, Magnusson, Nababkin; Akhmetov (Khosonov 76), Bijol, Oblyakov; Vlasic, Chalov; Sigurdsson (Chernov 64)
SUBS NOT USED: Pomazun (GK); Efremov, Nishimura, Zhamaletdinov
GOALS: Sigurdsson (50)
BOOKINGS: Magnusson (30, 57)
SENT OFF: Magnusson (57)
COACH: Viktor Goncharenko
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Olsen; Santon, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Nzonzi, Cristante; Florenzi (Juan Jesus 88), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Zaniolo 82), Kluivert (Under 70); Dzeko
SUBS NOT USED: Mirante (GK); Schick, Marcano, El Shaarawy
GOALS: Manolas (4), Pellegrini (58)
COACH: Eusebio Di Francesco
REFEREE: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
Despite the win, Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco said his team’s performance wasn’t good enough.
‘After all, we reached the semifinals last year. We need to get our wins with more confidence and that’s how I want to improve the team,’ he said.
The Italian team started fast with Kostas Manolas heading in the fourth-minute opener from Pellegrini’s curling corner.
After beating Madrid at home last month, CSKA’s young team showed a similar tenacious spirit to level the game at 1-1 in the 51st, the 20-year-old Ilzat Akhmetov sending a pass through the Roma defence for 19-year-old Arnor Sigurdsson to hold off two defenders and score with a calm finish.
However, the game changed when CSKA lost their other Icelander, defender Hordur Magnusson, to a second yellow card and Pellegrini pounced for his first Champions League goal.
The Greek defender rose highest to head the ball past CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev
The 27-year-old runs to the bench to celebrate scoring the opening goal for Roma in Russia
The centre back is swarmed by his Roma team-mates after they took an early lead
Three minutes after the sending-off, Pellegrini took advantage of the disarray in CSKA’s defence to beat the offside trap, latching on to Bryan Cristante’s pass before shooting past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
‘We needed to see the game out when we were in a winning position,’ di Francesco said. ‘I’m not happy that the players relaxed a bit and I always demand they give 100 percent concentration.’
Dzeko came into the game as the Champions League’s top scorer with five goals but his finishing against CSKA was wayward. At one point he dodged two CSKA defenders with excellent footwork only to send the ball straight at Akinfeev.
CSKA sit third in the group with four points from four games and have won just one of their last seven games since beating Madrid. CSKA haven’t gone past the group stage since 2011-12.
Hordur Magnusson was sent off in the second half after picking up a yellow card in either half
Magnusson is shown a second yellow card and subsequently sent off by referee Cuneyt Cakir
The hosts were forced into an early change when Mario Fernandes suffered a head injury
‘We played a bit adventurously in defence at times, you could say,’ said CSKA coach Viktor Goncharenko, who also paid tribute to his young team’s courage as underdogs.
CSKA suffered a blow when right back Mario Fernandes was forced off in the 12th minute after taking a blow to the head during a tackle.
‘According to the information we have it could be a concussion along with a broken cheekbone and nose, all together,’ Goncharenko said.
If confirmed, it would be the third time the Brazilian-born Russia player has broken his nose since 2015, and last year a serious break forced him to miss the Confederations Cup.
The Russia full back is carried off on a stretcher by medical staff early on in the first half
Edin Dzeko (c) is tackled by CSKA defender Kirill Nababkin during their Group G encounter
The CSKA supporters created an electric atmosphere after setting off flares in the stands