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Salah assists as Roma take control of Europa League round of 32 tie

Photo: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah came off the bench and registered an assist to put the game beyond Villarreal. Setting his side on their way to a 4-0 romping in this Europa League round of 32 tie, with Edin Dzeko scoring a hatrick.

The match began with a high tempo but neither side was able to create any scoring opportunites. Despite good combinations in midfield and clever runs from wide areas, both AS Roma and Villarreal were denied by well organized defenses. A corner in the 10th minute for Roma was as close as any of the sides got to goal in the opening exchanges.

The high tempo took its toll on concentration, and as the match went on, chances became more frequent. The first good chance went the way of the Yellow Submarines when Dos Santos broke through the Roma defence. His efforts led to a shot over the bar by Castillejo.

Fans had to wait until the half-hour mark for the first shot target. Interestingly enough, both teams managed to test the opposing goalkeeper within the 30th minute. A long cross fell onto the path of Mario, in Roma’s box, but he headed straight to Allison. There was an immediate turnover from this miss but Edin Dzeko also headed straight to the keeper when El Shaarawy set him up.

A goal finally came in the 32nd minute. Castillejo’s poor pass was intercepted by Emerson just outside the left of Villarreal’s box. The Brazilian ran into space ahead of him and let off a shot to the top right corner to give Roma the lead.

The Italian side went to the break on the front foot after having been subdued in the middle parts of the first half. They could have made it 2-0 but a last ditch tackle on Strootman denied them what looked certain to be a second goal.

Roma continued from their strong finish in the first half as the Europa League round of 32 tie resumed, but Villarreal were quick to take control of proceedings. The home side enjoyed their best spell of the match and created two good chances in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

First, Bakambu managed to open shooting space for himself but the DR Congo man could not keep his shot on target. The second chance was created from the right wing. From this, Mario forced Allison into a good save at the near-post.

Spalletti brought on Mohamed Salah for El Shaarawy in the 60th minute to try and wrestle back control of the match. The Egyptian forward took only four minutes to make an impact. Salah received a through ball on the right and made a cutback to Dzeko for AS Roma’s second goal of the night.

Mohamed Salah almost found Dzeko again, in similar fashion, two minutes later but this time the Villarreal defence got onto the ball. The Bosnian striker would score his second in the 78th minute. He received a long vertical pass, and shook off his marker to make it 3-0 to Roma.

Villarreal’s nightmare continued into the last minutes of the match when Dzeko recorded a hatrick. He controlled Nainggolan’s low cross from the left and placed the ball past Asenjo. The goal ended any hopes Villarreal still had left over this Europa League round of 32 tie. The second leg will be played, in Rome, in a week’s time.

I have dedicated part of my time in this bad world to following African football. From CECAFA to WAFU, COSAFA to UNAF & even the forgotten UNIFFAC.

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