AS Roma came to Udine without both Francesco Totti and Gervinho and had Maicon sent off 25 minutes before the match ended. They hadn't been playing particularly well -- in fact Udinese had the better of the chances. Then, Rudi Garcia brought on Michael Bradley for Marco Borriello in an attempt to preserve the point. Instead, the American scored a great goal three minutes later and gave Roma's tifosi even more reason to be happy in a season they are already delighted with. Sure, maybe the giallorossi are peaking early, maybe this is all just temporary and they will likely lose sooner or later. But right now, Roma looks like a big team. And they're winning games. Nine of them so far, in fact. From nine played.
The first half was entertaining enough, although it did seem a little more chaotic than Garcia likes. Both teams had their chances to score. The hosts had a good chance on three minutes, when Roberto Pereyra sent a great pass to Muriel, who took a diagonal shot from the edge of the box but was only able to hit the post. Roma had a good chance through Mehdi Benatia in the 22nd minute, but his header was rescued by by Ivan Kelava. The best chance of the first half came in the 38th, when Muriel dribbled past Maicon to serve Gabriel Silva who was one on one with Morgan De Sanctis. The Brazilian lobbed the ball over the Roma keeper's head, but Leandro Castan slid in with a fantastic goal line clearance.
The giallorossi saw more of the ball in the first half, but it was Udinese who were more dangerous. Roma couldn't find the right flow up front and were unable to really trouble Kelava. On the other side, their defense, vulnerable to the zebrette's fast breaks, were lucky not to concede.
In the second half, Roma continued to maintain possession, but still couldn't do much in front of the Udinese goal. Adem Ljajic was the most active Roma player, but the young attacker almost always made one too many dribbles or put his pass in late. On the right side, Alessandro Florenzi wasn't at his best, misplacing many passes. Gabriel Silva gave both he and Maicon, behind Florenzi, plenty of trouble. But when Maicon was ultimately sent off, it was for a foul on Emmanuel Badu, a challenge that earned him his second yellow.
But despite having a man advantage, the zebrette were unable to create much, no longer even troubling Roma with their counter attacks. That left enabled the visitors to punish them in the 81st minute. Kevin Strootman kept the ball well before rolling it on Bradley, who, from 20 yards out, blasted his shot into the bottom corner. The American missed much of the Serie A season with injury, and this is his first game for over a month. What a way to mark it -- with his first goal of the season.
It was a great goal, but all in all, Roma's win didn't seem deserved. But in the end, isn't winning when you don't play well what separates a great team from a good one?
Udinese (3-5-1-1): Kelava; Heurtaux (Basta 76'), Danilo, Naldo, Gabriel Silva; Pereyra, Pinzi, Badu, Lazzari (Maicosuel 85'); Muriel (Ranegie 90'); Di Natale.
Roma (4-3-3): De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Balzaretti; Strootman, De Rossi, Pjanic (Torosidis 68'); Florenzi (Marquinho 62'), Borriello (Bradley 78'), Ljajic
Goal: Bradley 81'
Red card: Maicon 66'