Roma-Triestina: Giallorossi Still Best Team in the World Despite Tuesday Scare

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2010

ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 09:  Claudio Ranieri the coach of AS Roma gestures during the Serie A match between Roma and Chievo at Stadio Olimpico on January 9, 2010 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Before we start, let me breathe a huge sigh of relief...

Aaah, now we've got that over and done with, we can get on with business!

While the winter weather is wreaking havoc with the fixtures in England, causing many of today's FA Cup third round matches to be postponed, Italy has been fortunate enough to escape the icy conditions, allowing the Coppa Italia to proceed as planned.

With the majority of matches taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, the spotlight was solely on the Stadio Olimpico tonight as Roma defended Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC ) against Serie B side Triestina.

And, as if playing for (arguably?) the most prestigious prize in world football wasn't enough, the winner would also progress through to the quarter finals of the Italian Cup.

Needless to say, Claudio Ranieri's Roma side were overwhelming favourites. Not only were they facing a team 33 league places below them, but they were also on a 12-match unbeaten run.

Triestina, on the other hand, were languishing down in 18th place in Serie B, having won just once since Nov. 21.

But the game is played on grass, not paper, and Triestina set about silencing the measly 7,241 people who had bothered to turn up to the match early on.

After just five minutes, a cross from the left beat the first two Roma defenders before Triestina's Luigi Andrea Della Rocca attempted to get ahead of Marco Cassetti, drawing a clumsy tackle from behind.

The referee immediately pointed to the spot, and Della Rocca picked himself up and fired the ball straight down the middle to give the Serie B minnows a shock lead against the nine-time Coppa Italia champions.

It wasn't as if Roma had put out a poor side, either. While the likes of Luca Toni and Daniele De Rossi were absent, Ranieri had included regular starters such as Mirko Vucinic and David Pizarro.

The difference in quality did begin to show as the match wore on, but Roma couldn't find the elusive equaliser.

They came close on a number of occasions, however.

A Julio Baptista cross somehow found Alessio Cerci at the back-post, but his header was kept out by Triestina goalkeeper Michael Agazzi.

Just three minutes later Cerci was threatening the away side's goal again, this time with his feet. An ominous free-kick just outside the penalty area had the travelling fans biting their fingernails, and they were almost down to the bone when Cerci struck it.

A collective sigh of relief followed, however, as his effort skimmed narrowly over the crossbar.

As time wore on, it became apparent that Roma were by far the dominant team, and the gulf in class was plain to see, yet the home side still couldn't find a goal.

Agazzi was Triestina's saviour once more five minutes after Cerci's set-piece when he did well to save a thunderous strike from Marco Motta before denying Julio Baptista from yet another free-kick.

A Roma penalty claim was then waved away after the referee deemed that Marcello Cottafava had got the ball before bringing Cerci down.

The Giallorossi must have thought they had finally levelled the sides in the 40th minute when Mirko Vucinic got on the end of a Cerci corner, but their frustration was palpable when they saw it cleared off the line.

They could have been forgiven for thinking it just wasn't going to be their day, but their fortune changed just before the break.

A nice move down the right-hand flank resulted in a low Motta cross, which Triestina failed to clear properly. The ball fell straight to Matteo Brighi who took a touch control before his volley deflected past Agazzi with just seconds left in the first half.

The second half began much in the same way as the first, with Triestina getting a great chance.

A Roma corner led to a quick counter-attack from the Serie B side and a one-on-one for Della Rocca. With Doni a long way out of his penalty area, the striker just had to round the Roma 'keeper and slot the ball into the open net.

Doni, however, had other ideas and showed off his defensive skills by dispossessing Della Rocca and averting the danger.

A Triestina goal would have been grossly unfair given the way the match had gone, but it reminded Roma that they needed to kill the game off.

This meant getting a second goal and, after more relentless attacking, it finally came on the hour mark.

A beautiful passage of play between Jeremy Menez and Mirko Vucinic opened up the Triestina defence, allowing Menez to slide a perfectly weighted low cross in to Vucinic who completed the move with a simple tap-in.

With the scoreboard in their favour, too, now, Roma enjoyed complete domination as they kept the ball with ease, not needing to force the situation and never really in danger of conceding another.

Still, a two-goal lead is a lot more secure than a one-goal lead, and they weren't ready to rest on their laurels just yet.

Julio Baptista had a chance to get the goal that would kill the game off after 75 minutes, but his shot went high over the bar.

He redeemed himself just minutes later, however, when he proceeded to get that all-important third goal.

It came from another free-kick on the edge of the box, but this time Baptista judged it perfectly, getting it over the wall and into the bottom corner without the 'keeper even moving.

A late chance from Vucinic almost put the icing on the cake for Roma, but Ranieri seemed happy enough with a 3-1 win in a potential banana-skin match.

His side's place in the quarter-finals is now confirmed, and they will find out whether they will face Genoa or Catania when the two sides meet tomorrow.

Della Rocca's fifth minute goal earned him the unique distinction of being the 100th different player to have scored in a UWCC title match, so congratulations to him for that!

The match was also the first Coppa Italia match in UWCC history.

Again, 90.9 percent of voters on the poll correctly predicted the result of this match (yes, someone was mad enough to back Triestina!), so well done to the majority!

Barney's prediction: Roma win (5-0)       Actual result: Roma win (3-1)

Correct prediction streak: Two matches in a row!


Roma's run

Roma 2-1 Fulham (Roma become new champions)

Inter Milan 1-1 Roma

Roma 3-1 Bari

Atalanta 1-2 Roma

Roma 2-1 Basel

Roma 1-0 Lazio

Sampdoria 0-0 Roma  

CSKA Sofia 0-3 Roma

Roma 2-0 Parma

Cagliari 2-2 Roma

Roma 1-0 Chievo

Roma 3-1 Triestina


( Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)


Roma's next title defence comes on Sunday as they host Genoa in Serie A.


Form book (last five matches): Roma - WWDWW; Genoa - DLLLW

Barney's prediction: Roma 2-1 Genoa


                                                  H O M E                      A W A Y

Pos.     Team               Pla.   W   D   L   GF   GA   W  D   L   GF    GA  GD PTS





What are your predictions for this upcoming fixture? Will Genoa, potentially Roma's opponents in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, be able to wrestle the UWCC title from Claudio Ranieri's grasp?


Video highlights of Roma 3-1 Triestina can be seen here .



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