Roma Win Well to Set up Aspire Clash
Roma advanced to the semi-finals with a straight forward 3-0 victory over Spartak Moscow, after the Russians had been reduced to 10 men midway through the second half.
The Italians came into the game as one of the tournament favourites after their 5-2 mauling of PSG in their opening match was followed up with a highly efficient 2-0 victory over Kashiwa Reysol.
Spartak, meanwhile, had also shown considerable potential in the group stage, rebounding from a narrow loss against Real Madrid to comfortably dispatch Suwon Samsung by three goals to one.
And, in Ilya Golyatov, Spartak possessed the tournament’s joint top scorer, and a player capable of winning a game on his own.
Roma were on the front foot from the first whistle, and engineered an early chance Andrea Astrologo got up well to head a cross from the right goalwards, but keeper Pavel Boriskin saved comfortably.
Five minutes later Astrologo turned supplier, sending in a corner from the left that skipper Mattia Ciucci rose to meet, but again Boriskin was equal to it.
Roma were beginning to dominate, and Alessio Buttaro went close moments later with a close range, side-footed volley that the Spartak keeper saved well at his near post.
Mory Bamba’s pace was troubling the Russian backline, who resorted to questionable tactics to halt his runs on more than one occasion, with Vyacheslav Frolov cautioned early on for hacking down the speedy winger as he got away down the right.
Just after the half hour, and following another foul, Astrologo put in a high, angled cross from the right that Edoardo Bove rose highest to head home.
Spartak’s spoiling tactics continued, with Vadim Khromin seeing yellow after blocking off Bamba – not for the first time.
Despite being constantly under the cosh, Ilya Levchenkov could have equalised for Moscow just after the restart, but could not connect with a low cross from six yards out. Soon after, Spartak’s tough task became even more difficult when Frolov was shown a second yellow for a late challenge on Matteo Cancellieri.
Roma passed up a host of chances subsequently, the best of which fell to substitute Daniel Tueto Fotso just before the hour mark, when he popped up unmarked six yards out but mis-controlled the inswinging corner and the chance was gone.
Boriskin continued to keep Spartak in the game with a series of splendid saves, but the Russian keeper couldn’t hold back the tide forever, and Roma doubled their lead as the game entered its final quarter, with Tueto Fotso heading home.
In added time, Riccardo Ciervo’s strike into the roof of the net was chalked out for offside, only for the decision to be corrected after a VAR review, following a lengthy delay for consultations. Ciervo almost added a fourth within moments of the restart, only for Boriskin to produce another spectacular save to keep out the first-time volley.
Roma will face Aspire Academy in the second of Wednesday’s semi-finals. Both sides have impressed thus far and will have to be at their very best to reach the final.