The seven-time European champions had scored at least two goals in their last four matches against Roma in all competitions, and they had one inside 10 minutes here. Theo Hernández fired in a ferocious volley which was well beaten away by Rui Patrício, but VAR intervened and spotted the slightest of handballs from Tammy Abraham. Olivier Giroud confidently stepped up eight minutes in to slide in the opener from the spot.
Roma’s away form has been wayward this season, losing five of their nine away matches so far, and they were 2-0 behind before the 20-minute mark. Roger Ibañez undercooked his backpass and as Giroud’s first effort came back off the post, Junior Messias was on hand to calmly curl into an unguarded net. The ‘Rossoneri’ have only managed a single clean sheet at home in Serie A this season and the wait for a second was prolonged by Abraham. Undeterred by giving away an early penalty, the former Chelsea marksman expertly diverted in a Lorenzo Pellegrini cross-come-shot just before the break to half the deficit.
The hosts started the second half with the same attacking impetus as they had begun the match – this time the crossbar was the only thing able to keep out Brahim Díaz’s thunderous long-range attempt. Their capital counterparts haven’t registered consecutive wins on the road in Serie A for 18 months, and any hope of this changing ended in the 73rd minute when Rick Karsdorp received a second yellow card for a last-ditch challenge on Sandro Tonali and eight minutes later, substitute Rafael Leão raced through to put the result beyond any doubt.
Roma finished with nine men after Gianluca Mancini was also given his marching orders late on, but Zlatan Ibrahimović missed the resulting spot-kick. Last year started with the ‘Rossoneri’ leading the pack as ‘Campione d’Inverno’, before badly fading away in the spring but Stefano Pioli will be hoping this result is a springboard for a different title run-in altogether this time around.