A pair of coolly-taken goals from Alessio Cerci helped AS Roma to victory over PFC CSKA Sofia and ensured the Giallorossi finished top of Group E.
Cerci had played only 74 minutes in the UEFA Europa League before tonight, but took his chance to shine with a goal either side of the break as the Giallorossi made sure of a seeded place in Friday's round of 32 draw. Teenage debutant Filippo Scardina rounded off the scoring a minute from time after Simone Perrotta seized on Pavel Vidanov's error and squared for the 17-year-old.
On his first European outing of the season, Bogdan Lobonţ twice denied CSKA in the opening quarter, first thwarting Spas Delev and then producing a flying save to prevent Kostadin Stoyanov from finding the top corner. The Giallorossi offered little until Stefano Okaka Chuka tested Zdravko Chavdarov with a glancing header and Marco Andreolli directed David Pizarro's corner against the post.
Despite that flurry of activity, the half seemed set to end goalless until Cerci − sporting a plaster below his left eye after an earlier challenge − expertly controlled Danielle De Rossi's pass, stepped inside one challenge and drove the ball across Chavdarov in added time. The forward doubled his tally seven minutes after the restart with a neat finish through Chavdarov's legs after running on to a long clearance.
CSKA had only scored twice in five group matches and they rarely looked like adding another; Svetoslav Petrov's effort from distance symptomatic of the type of chance the hosts were being restricted to. Cerci, meanwhile, was having no such trouble and passed up an opportunity to claim a hat-trick when he pushed the ball too wide after breaking down the right and rounding Chavdarov. Scardina put the icing on an impressive team performance eight minutes after replacing Okaka Chuka.