Super-sub Federico Fazio can't inspire Roma to a draw with Napoli

Roma have a lot of work to do after a narrow defeat to Serie A leaders Napoli exposed some familiar weaknesses, despite an encouraging second half that showed that they're agonisingly close to matching the league's best.

Lorenzo Insigne's 20th minute close range daisy cutter -- laid on a plate for him by Daniele De Rossi stumbling over a whizzing ball -- was enough for the Partenopei to return south with three points and a five-point lead over champions Juventus, but Maurizio Sarri's team almost paid for an arrogant display after the break that nearly allowed Roma to scrape a point.

The Giallorossi had to wait until 69 minutes for their first shot on target, but when it came it looked for all the world an equaliser. The tireless Edin Dzeko flashed a beautiful header towards the top left corner that Pepe Reina somehow managed to tip onto the post just as the raucous Stadio Olimpico prepared itself to explode. Lively substitute Cengiz Under could have snatched a last-second draw but didn't catch a difficult volley well enough to beat Napoli's imperious stopper.

Sixteen Napoli shots to Roma's nine tells the story of a match that could have been done after 45 minutes. It wasn't until the brilliant Federico Fazio came on for the injured Kostas Manolas after an hour that Roma managed to impose their play on the away team. Eusebio Di Francesco has plenty to think about with stuttering Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Champions League progress on the agenda. A display in London with the passion of the second half on Saturday and a bloody nose for hated Juve icon Antonio Conte could be on the cards. One like the first 45 and another Euro nightmare awaits.


After being totally dominated in the first half Roma showed great character to get at Napoli after the break, even if they were helped by the away side inexplicably taking their foot off the pedal. Watching Roma slowly push Napoli backwards as the Curva Sud throbbed with noise was a reminder that this team has huge potential that if channelled could do serious damage in Serie A.


This is the third big team that Roma have faced at the Olimpico and the same problems have been evident in all three matches -- inability to create clear chances and susceptibility to mobile, diminutive attackers. Certainly having to face Napoli's lethal front three with Juan Jesus and Bruno Peres in your backline would be a test for any manager, but the stodginess of Roma's attack is worrying. That Dzeko's header was Roma's only shot on target says it all.

Manager rating

5 -- Di Francesco predictably went like-for-like with Napoli's 4-3-3, trying to use Radja Nainggolan in particular as a battering ram through Sarri's superbly-drilled unit, but did he really need to start Peres when Alessandro Florenzi has performed so well at right-back? The 27-year-old did not show that he can deliver on the right flank.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 6 -- A guarantee, as they say in Italy. Could do nothing with Insigne's winner and otherwise was a safe pair of hands.

DF Bruno Peres, 5 -- Ruthlessly targeted by Napoli in the first half, the Brazilian perked up ever so slightly in the second.

DF Kostas Manolas, 6 -- A solid hour struggling alongside Peres and Juan Jesus before limping off with a muscle injury.

DF Juan Jesus, 5 -- Looked much more comfortable once Fazio was alongside him and Roma were pushing forward more confidently.

DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 6 -- Napoli rarely went after his flank, and why would you when you have such juicy meat to chew on the other side of the pitch?

MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, 6 -- Carried out his instructions to the letter, but rarely imposed himself on his opposite numbers.

MF Daniele De Rossi, 5 -- Far, far too slow to move the ball and struggled to build attacks. Stumbled over the ball like a geriatric for Insigne's goal.

MF Radja Nainggolan, 6 -- A odd display. Full of aggression and willingness to push forward, but seems hampered by some invisible force that's not allowing him to express himself

FW Alessandro Florenzi, 5 -- Didn't make enough of an impact. Never got behind behind Elseid Hysaj and his deliveries from the right flank were flaccid.

FW Edin Dzeko, 6 -- Couldn't believe that Reina managed to get a hand to his brilliant header, and neither could the rest of the Stadio Olimpico.

FW Diego Perotti, 6 -- Lots of endeavour and provided the only decent cross of the night for Dzeko. Very good in that tense final 20.


DF Federico Fazio, 8 -- Dominated Napoli's forwards as soon as he came on, and his superior passing allowed Roma to start building attacks. A 30-minute man of the match display.

FW Cengiz Under, N/R -- Must be ruing the way he caught his late volley.

MF Gerson, N/R -- Bright and lively in place of Pellegrini.