HT: Juve and injury hit Roma hard

It has been an eventful first half at the Olimpico, as Juventus lead 2-0, but Merih Demiral and Nicolò Zaniolo were stretchered off with potentially serious injuries.

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The Bianconeri knew Inter had been held by Atalanta last night, so a win would secure their status as Winter Champions at the midway stage of the season, while the hosts needed a boost to go clear in fourth after the surprise home defeat to Torino.

Roma missed Javier Pastore, Federico Fazio, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Davide Santon, Justin Kluivert and Davide Zappacosta, but resisted the rumoured switch to three at the back. Rodrigo Bentancur continued his ban, with Sami Khedira and Giorgio Chiellini injured, as Aaron Ramsey and Merih Demiral were again given the nod.

It took under three minutes to break the deadlock, as Paulo Dybala floated a free kick to the back post, where Demiral got away from Aleksandar Kolarov to volley in almost with his shin.

Roma were caught napping again, this time with Jordan Veretout on a back-pass, as Dybala snuck up behind him to steal the ball and was hauled down. Cristiano Ronaldo sent Pau Lopez the wrong way to convert the penalty and double Juve’s lead.

The Giallorossi nearly got back into it, as Wojciech Szczesny flapped at an Alessandro Florenzi cross and Lorenzo Pellegrini’s rebound was cleared practically off the line by Adrien Rabiot’s torso.

Goal-scorer Demiral landed heavily on his knee after a huge leap on a free kick and had to limp off, replaced by Matthijs de Ligt.

Nicolò Zaniolo’s shot was charged down after a ruleta, then he was brought down by De Ligt on the edge of the box following a marvellous slalom through defenders. He must’ve fallen awkwardly, as Zaniolo was in tears and had to be stretchered off, making way for Cengiz Under.

Diego Perotti pounced on a poor Miralem Pjanic pass and was brought down by Juan Cuadrado right on the edge of the box, but Kolarov’s free kick was deflected over. Instead, Ronaldo threatened to make it 3-0 on a Rabiot through ball, his angled drive well parried by Pau Lopez.

Roma 0-2 Juventus (Half-Time)

Demiral 3 (J), Ronaldo pen 10 (J)

These two coaches have met before, as Fonseca’s Shakhtar Donetsk knocked Sarri’s Napoli out of the Champions League.

Roma: Pau Lopez; Florenzi, Smalling, Mancini, Kolarov; Diawara, Veretout; Zaniolo (Under 36), Pellegrini, Perotti; Dzeko

Juventus: Szczesny; Cuadrado, Demiral (De Ligt 19), Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Rabiot, Pjanic, Matuidi; Ramsey; Dybala, Ronaldo

Ref: Guida

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