AS Roma marked their return to the UEFA Champions League with a massive home win against a visiting FC Shakhtar Donetsk side who often played the better football but were swept aside by four second-half goals.
Roma kicked off with one change to the team that started in Serie A on Saturday, and the man coming in, Brazilian Taddei, set the Giallorossi on their way with a 67th-minute opener. Lone forward Francesco Totti doubled the lead in the 76th minute, three minutes before Daniele De Rossi made it 3-0. Summer signing David Pizarro, who had dropped to the bench, then capped a super night by completing the scoring in the last minute.
Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu had the luxury of bringing back six players rested at the weekend, including Ciprian Marica whose battles with Roma defender and Romania team-mate Cristian Chivu lit up the first half. Marica pounced after 15 minutes, beating Chivu to a long pass, but the onrushing Brandão could only fire his cross wide of the Roma goal.
In the 25th minute Totti brought the crowd to life with a lovely side-footed pass to the overlapping Simone Perrotta but the Roma captain's FIFA World Cup-winning team-mate could only scoop an angled shot over the bar. A flurry of bookings then slowed the pace of the game before the hosts moved up a gear, with Mancini holding off Tomáš Hübschman in the area before placing his effort off target. Taddei also sent a looping strike across the face of Dmytro Shutkov's goal.
Nerves continued to fray in the second half after Marica caught goalkeeper Doni's face with his boot in the opening seconds, and the Shakhtar player was involved again in the 56th minute, turning Chivu by the corner flag before dribbling past Matteo Ferrari and Alberto Aquilani and flashing an attempt across the goalmouth. Despite hard work on the left from Mancini and a speculative shot from Aquilani, poor passing meant Roma were on the back foot by the 59th minute when an advancing Brandão drove wide.
Yet with coach Luciano Spalletti yelling encouragement from the dugout, the match turned dramatically in the 67th minute when defender Max Tonetto's cross slipped past Totti and found Taddei who slammed his shot high into the Shakhtar net from wide on the right. Lucescu saw fit to introduce Julius Aghahowa and Olexiy Gay to reverse his side's luck, but Roma got the crucial second goal too as Totti swivelled and delivered a left-foot shot through the packed defence and into the far corner.
With the home fans roaring the capital club on, the third quickly followed. De Rossi pounced on a centre from substitute Pizarro to steer a powerful header past Shutkov. Pizarro then helped himself to a goal, neatly teeing up the ball before firing in from distance. Things will no doubt be tougher when Roma visit Valencia CF - 4-2 winners at Olympiacos CFP - in a fortnight.
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