Marco Andreolli said he "couldn't ask for more" after scoring his first senior goal to salvage a point for AS Roma in the dying seconds of their UEFA Europa League Group E encounter at Craven Cottage.
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Marco Andreolli said that he "couldn't ask for more" after scoring his first senior goal to salvage a point for AS Roma in the dying seconds of their Group E contest at Craven Cottage.
When David Pizarro's corner fell his way at the far post three minutes into stoppage time, the 23-year-old buried a spectacular effort high into the Fulham net, finishing like an accomplished forward rather than a defender without a goal to his name. It was a strike that saved Roma from a second defeat in their section – and saved the blushes of Jérémy Menez who had seen his 78th-minute penalty saved by Mark Schwarzer as Roma pushed for an equaliser in the closing stages.
Andreolli, a former Italian Under-21 international, said: "It was a great feeling to score at the end especially in injury time after dominating the second half and creating a lot of chances. It is an even more special feeling because it is my first goal for Roma. I couldn't ask for more. We certainly deserved to avoid defeat, especially because in the second half we had many chances. We missed a penalty and it wasn't a game we could lose."
Roma finished the game with almost twice as many shots as Fulham – 19 to the hosts' eleven – but until Andreolli's dramatic intervention, it looked like they would suffer yet more misery on English soil. They arrived in west London having lost on nine of 13 previous visits and started slowly, falling behind to Brede Hangeland's 24th-minute header. Giallorossi defender Philippe Mexès said: "In England they always play with a high tempo and they had a lot of corners in the first half. In the second we found our rhythm, we played wide, we changed our style of play and the game was more balanced. We pushed them back and things got better for us."
Home games to come
Claudio Ranieri's team might have scored sooner but for several fine saves by Fulham keeper Schwarzer, and Mexès added: "I think we deserved to score earlier. But we have to be satisfied with this draw because it is important at the moment not to lose ground." Though third in Group E with half of their games played, Roma lie within two points of the summit and have home matches against Fulham and leaders FC Basel 1893 to come. Midfielder Stefano Guberti added: "It is a very important point because a defeat here at Fulham would have made life difficult for us. Now we have two games in a row at home and we know we have to win both to make sure we go through."