Cork City 1 AS Roma 3: Edoardo Soleri’s 86th-minute strike spared AS Roma’s blushes, and stole a famous result from Cork City as the Leesiders almost trumped the odds, but not the clock, in a 3-1 defeat in front of a bumper crowd at Turner’s Cross.
It could have been a famous night on Leeside, however Lorenzo Crisanto’s brilliant save from Aaron Drinan’s penalty five minutes into the second half, combined with Soleri’s late strike, helped save the Italian champions at the ‘Cross, before substitute Filippo Franchi added a shattering third.
“It’s very disappointing at the end and I have a dressing room that’s absolutely gutted,” said City boss Stephen Bermingham following the defeat. “I believed in the team and they believed in themselves, and tonight they showed a lot of people how good Irish soccer and Cork soccer is.
“We believed we were going to have a go; they mightn’t have believed they were going to get the game they did, but we knew. We said in the huddle afterwards this is only half-time, and I think the performance was deserving at least a draw.”
On a chilly night at the Cross, the Italian champions were expected to dominate but just two minutes in Lorenzo Cristanto was glad to see Alec Byrne’s curling effort fly wide.
Marco Tumminello lobbed wide under pressure from City keeper David Coffey. However 10 minutes in, the City custodian’s weak attempt to save Frattesi’s low drive saw City behind.
City battled back and Roma boss Alberto Di Rossi added an extra man to his original back three as the hosts earned five corners in the opening 17 minutes. The hard-work paid off 19 minutes in; Cian Coleman’s inviting ball over the top bounced into the path of Aaron Drinan whose half-volley screamed into the net.
The most unlikely of equalisers given the scale of the City mission, and they were reminded of the pedigree they were up against as Coffey atoned for his earlier effort, first showing a strong hand to turn Italian international Tumminello’s low half-volley, before a smashing flying save to deny Sidy Coly.
City had two let-offs late in the half, as first Frattesi’s long-range effort cannoned off the crossbar and just before the half Tumminello thought he had finally bagged his sixth of the competition but Alessandro Bordin’s corner was adjudged to have went out of play on its way into the box.
It could have been a famous start to the second-half, but despite Crisanto’s brilliant save to his bottom right, the penalty miss, and the Roma custodian’s antics following, only served to further galvanize the 3,014 in attendance.
Conor McCarthy has found himself, along with Chiedoze Ogbene and Cian Coleman, featuring in John Caulfield’s plans, and McCarthy showed why his stock is rising with two fantastic blocks, first to deny Spinozzi, and then to intercept Frattesi with Coly looking certain to score at the back post.
Both Coffey and Crisanto both had to show good hands to deny Fratessi and Daire O’Riordan respectively before Tumminello headed onto the roof of the net.
It was tough, then, when Roma captain Solari’s cross found its way over the dive of Coffey and into the far corner of the net. And with legs tiring Stefano Ciavattini’s surge down the right-flank saw his low drive saved by Coffey, but Franchi was on hand to net a third and all but seal the tie.
D Coffey; P Phillips, C McCarthy, A O’Sullivan, K Taylor; D Fernandes, C Coleman, A Byrne, D O’Riordan, C Ogbene; A Drinan.
L Crisanto; N Tofanari, S Ciavattini, L Grosi, L Pellegrini (M Antonucci 80); D Frattesi, A Bordin, E Spinozzi (R Marchizza 66); SK Coly (F Franchi 85), E Soleri, L Pellegrini.
J Burchardt (DEN).
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