Roma are certainly not dull under Zdenek Zeman, as they fought back twice to hold Catania 2-2 with stunning Pablo Osvaldo and Nico Lopez goals.
Zdenek Zeman is back at the Stadio Olimpico after 13 years and was welcomed as a hero by the fans eager for his all-attack style of football, packing out the arena. Fresh from taking Pescara to promotion, the Coach was unable to count on new buy Mattia Destro due to a ban, while Dodo was injured, but started four summer signings. Catania missed Mariano Izco and Alessandro Potenza under Serie A debutant Coach Rolando Maran.
Sergio Almiron’s free kick whistled inches past the post and Leandro Castan bravely blocked a Pablo Barrientos volley from point-blank range with his face, leaving the Argentine a little dazed.
It was Catania who took an all-round deserved lead at the half-hour mark. A free kick was rolled out to Almiron, whose charged down effort was deflected into the path of Giovanni Marchese, allowing the unmarked player to fire in. However, there were suspicions of offside, as the new rules state a touch from an opponent has to be on purpose to count and this seemed to be a pure deflection off Osvaldo.
Erik Lamela thought he was about to equalise in a chaotic move, but his finish was charged down by teammate Pablo Daniel Osvaldo.
Catania came so close a second before half-time, as Alejandro Gomez was clear on goal and Maarten Stekelenburg kept his cool to block in a one-on-one.
Straight after the restart Andujar palmed away a Lamela free kick and from the resulting corner Osvaldo’s header cracked against the base of the upright.
Osvaldo turned off target with an audacious backheel ‘scorpion’ flick and Lamela’s daisy-cutter whistled wide.
The Italian-Argentine had been pushing hard and got his deserved goal to draw Roma level with real style. Daniele De Rossi chipped a pass over the defence for Osvaldo to leap into the air and scissor-kick it on the twist into the far top corner! It was a stunning strike, reminiscent of one Youri Djorkaeff scored for Inter some years ago.
Roma nearly turned the game around moments later, as Lamela’s viciously dipping corner just failed to find a touch in the six-yard box. Osvaldo was stopped by an incorrect offside flag when clear on goal and there were penalty appeals for a Giuseppe Bellusci handling offence, as it was all Roma now.
However, just as Catania were pegged back into their own half, they restored their advantage on the counter-attack. It was like watching last season’s Giallorossi, as Papu Gomez was totally unmarked down the left and placed his angled drive across Stekelenburg.
The drama wasn’t over, as in stoppages substitute Nico Lopez scored a fantastic equaliser on his Serie A debut. The 19-year-old Uruguayan flicked a ball over the on-rushing defender and smashed in the left-foot strike on the volley.
Catania nearly won it 3-2 at the death, as Castro’s lob beat Stekelenburg only to hit the bar!