Roma Move into Champions League Spot with Win Over Ten Man Parma
Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) witnessed another defence yesterday as champions Roma took on newly-promoted but high-flying Parma at the Stadio Olimpico.
Both teams came into this match in good form, and it was potentially an early showdown for a Champions League spot as the winners would climb into fourth place.
Ever since winning the UWCC title, Roma had been a great form, going eight matches unbeaten (nine if you include the match before they won the title), only dropping four points along the way.
Parma were going to be no pushovers, however, having gone on a five-match unbeaten run of their own, with their only loss in the past seven games coming courtesy of AC Milan.
That run was ended yesterday, however, as Roma used their home advantage to good effect, running out 2-0 winners.
Manager Claudio Ranieri restored Francesco Totti to the starting lineup after a mid-week rest, but even the Roma legend couldn't inspire his side to create much in the opening stages.
An ultra-defensive Parma side clearly had a gameplan to stop the Roma dangermen and, all credit to them, they executed it perfectly. It may not have made for a thrilling spectacle, but that wasn't at the forefront of Parma manager Francesco Guidolin's mind.
While there weren't many gilt-edged chances, Roma did have a couple of sightings of goal early on as they looked to break down the Parma defence.
A masked Daniele De Rossi headed over from a corner after just seven minutes. Less than a minute later, Mirko Vucinic sent a header of his own over the crossbar.
For the next 20 minutes or so, both teams battled for control of the game to no avail. It was certainly the defences who were winning, playing to the stereotype of Italian football, but of the two Roma perhaps looked more threatening.
Despite this, it was Parma who provided the next highlight as Blerim Dzemaili's long-range effort briefly had Julio Sergio troubled, but it ended up going wide of the Roma 'keeper's post.
On the half hour mark, the fans were finally treated to the first good chance, and it fell to the home side.
A low cross from the right-hand side was intercepted, but the ball fell straight to Matteo Brighi who found himself in acres of space inside the box.
The Italian midfielder controlled it before drilling his shot straight at Antonio Mirante.
After waiting over half an hour for one, two chances then came in a matter of minutes as, not long after Brighi's strike, Vucinic almost gave Roma the lead.
Another cross from the right exposed Parma's defensive frailties as Vucinic was left completely unmarked. He did well to control it and turn, but the finishing touch was slightly lacking as he fired his shot wide from a tight angle.
While the first half started slowly, the same couldn't be said for the second.
Just three minutes in, a short corner found Rodrigo Taddei, whose vicious first time cross caused havoc in the penalty area, rebounding off several players before finally falling to Nicholas Burdisso who fired it low past Mirante.
The lead was inches away from being doubled just minutes later too as Totti showed why he is so adored by the Giallorossi faithful.
The Roma captain received the ball centrally about 25 yards from goal before immediately turning and shooting. Mirante managed to get a hand to it, but it looked for all the world as if it would creep in.
Much to the away side's delight and relief, however, the ball rebounded off the post and into the grateful arms of Mirante.
Parma began to show a greater willingness to attack after this, and were almost rewarded on the hour mark. An interception by Burdisso gifted the ball to Nicola Amoruso, but the veteran Italian striker put his shot high and wide.
Roma responded with a sweeping move which resulted in Vucinic troubling Mirante once more before a lovely effort from Thiago Motta trickled agonisingly wide of the post.
Just three minutes later Roma had another golden chance, this time through Stefano Okaka Chuka. A mistake in the Parma defence gifted the ball to the young striker but he snatched at his shot and ended up dragging it some way wide.
In what was becoming a very entertaining spectacle, the home side had yet another chance in a matter of minutes. Julio Baptista's long range effort forced Mirante into another one-handed save, but this time he got enough on it to tip it over the crossbar.
As time began to run out, a clash between De Rossi and Massimo Paci resulted in a confrontation, for which both players received yellow cards. Unfortunately for Paci, it was his second, and as such was quickly followed by a red.
Things went from bad to worse for Parma in stoppage time as Roma doubled their lead through Brighi.
Some good play by Mirko Vucinic created space, and he slipped the pass through to the Italian midfielder who fired it past Mirante from close range as the Parma defence appealed in vain for an offside flag.
The result means that Roma move into fourth place in Serie A heading into the Christmas period, a position they will be looking to cement and ideally improve on in the coming months.
The win was also Roma's fifth at home as UWCC champions, a tally which makes them the second-most successful home side in the competition's history, behind Chelsea who won eight.
Matteo Brighi's late strike was the 200th goal in UWCC history, and the 61st of this season.
84.6 percent of people who voted in the poll correctly predicted that Parma wouldn't be able to topple Roma so, once again, well done to the majority!
Roma 2-1 Fulham (Roma become new champions)
Roma 2-0 Parma
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Due to the continental winter break, Roma's next title defence won't be until Wednesday 6th of January as they face Cagliari away. Can Cagliari become the best side in the world?!
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