SCOTT PETERSON - Sunday, December 9, 2012
Michael Bradley went the full 90 for Roma Saturday night in a thrilling contest that saw the Romans dispatch Fiorentina thanks to a huge game from Francesco Totti.
Bradley got the nod over Danielle de Rossi in the Roman midfield, as Zdenek Zeman has tinkered little with the starting 11 in the current winning streak that has seen the Roman outfit take maximum point from their last three matches.
Roma, spurred on by the home crowd, did not take long to assert themselves and grab the advantage.
Totti floated in a free kick into the box and behind Fiorentina's defensive ranks. Panagiotis Tachtsidis latched onto it and headed the ball into the ground, back behind the keeper to give defender Leandro Castan the easiest of tap-ins from less than a yard out in the seventh minute.
Fiorentina, however, did not wait long to counter.
Iglesias Borja Valero sent in a free kick in the 14th minute that found Gonzalo Rodriguez alone behind Roma's backline. Rodriguez picked out Facundo Roncaglia in front of Mauro Goicochea's goal, who fired past the helpless Roman keeper to knot things up.
Totti put the home team back in the lead five minutes later as the Roman captain chipped Mattia Destro's pass to set himself up for a volley, which Totti took with the outside of his right boot to beat keeper Emiliano Viviano from 7 yards out.
Totti capped off a productive first 45 with his second tally in the 44th minute, sending in a laser of a shot 28 yards from the target that Viviano's outstretched fingers could only graze.
A two goal advantage in hand after a scintillating opening frame, the Romans were given a rude awakening 120 seconds after the restart.
Borja Valero capped off his driving run down the left flank by picking out Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamadoui, whose well-taken header left Goicochea no chance and drew the visitors within a goal.
After the goal, the match really opened up with a slew of chances on both sides of the park. If it were not for some excellent goalkeeping by both netminders the match could have easily produced four or five additional goals.
As it was, Roma held on to the narrowest of advantages until the 89th minute when Totti added an assist, nutmegging his marker to find Destro, who one-timed a left-footed shot into the back of the net.
With the victory, Roma is now even on points at 29 with both Fiorentina and Lazio, who is in action Monday night. Up next for Bradley and Roma is a Sunday match versus Bradley's old employer Cheivo Verona, where Roma will look to make it five in a row.