KRC Genk showed great courage as they kept alive their slim chances of survival in the UEFA Champions League thanks to a goalless draw against AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in Group C tonight.
Roma almost caught out
The hosts were disappointed to be held after outplaying the resilient Belgian side for the vast majority of the match, but were in the end fortunate to take a point after striker Beli Moumouni Dagano went clean through on goal with fifteen minutes to go but scuffed his shot when it looked considerably easier to finally open his team's European account.
Roma should have gone ahead themselves inside the first ten minutes when they threatened the Genk goal on four occasions, starting the game with a clear determination to stamp their authority. Cafu jinked down the right on five minutes and forced goalkeeper Davy Schollen, standing in in for the suspended Jan Moons, to block with his legs. Soon after, Antonio Cassano, deputising for injured playmaker Francesco Totti, controlled the ball on his chest but volleyed centimetres wide.
A minute later Cassano slammed another shot wide after latching on to a ball inside the box, before Cafu was denied for the second time by an under-siege Schollen at the near post. Genk, however, then showed that Roma were not about to have everything their own way. Dagano thundered a shot from distance which Francesco Antonioli tipped over at full stretch, and then Koen Daerden forced another acrobatic stop from the Roma goalkeeper when he let fly from the left side of the penalty area.
The efforts served as a warning that Genk were more than capable of causing an upset and Roma were increasingly circumspect as the first half progressed. This caution, however, was nowhere to be seen in the initial exchanges after the interval when Roma charged forward in numbers and put the opposition goal under constant threat.
Twice inside five minutes Cafu dragged shots wide of the far post, while Gabriel Batistuta was incensed when he saw his effort from close range saved by Schollen, who was doing his chances of becoming the club's regular No1 no harm. After that stop, the keeper again did well to block a header from substitute Vincenzo Montella, on for Cassano.
However, just as Genk had done in the first half, they came desperately close to taking a shock lead. This time when Dagano was played in by Mirsad Bešlija, he somehow contrived to get the ball stuck under his left foot instead of striking the decisive blow. Roma now face a tough test against group leaders Real Madrid CF at the Santiago Bernabéu next Wednesday while Genk travel to Greece to face AEK Athens.