José Mourinho’s AS Roma secured a 2-0 win in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League (UEL) Round of 16 tie against Real Sociedad, as the Italian side improved their impressive home form across all competitions to eight wins from nine matches.
In a first-ever competitive meeting between the two sides, it was Roma who started on the front foot, and the hosts took an early lead with just 13 minutes on the clock.
Paulo Dybala showed impressive vision to pick out the run of Tammy Abraham, and the English striker turned sharply away from Igor Zubeldia, before crossing to the back post for Stephan El Shaarawy to tap home.
After a dismal opening 20 minutes, Sociedad – aiming to become just the third team in the competition’s history to record four consecutive away victories – gradually grew into the match.
Takefusa Kubo rattled the post with a close-range effort, while Chris Smalling narrowly avoided putting a cross into his own net, as the hosts held firm to preserve their one-goal advantage going into HT.
As a result, both managers turned to their respective benches in the hope of igniting a spark in the final third, and the changes nearly had an instant impact for the hosts, as Andrea Belotti raced through on goal and fired a powerful strike against the woodwork.
Sociedad were left to rue their missed opportunities, as Roma doubled their advantage with three minutes remaining through Marash Kumbulla, who headed home from Dybala’s corner to give the hosts a well-deserved lead going into next week’s return leg in San Sebastián.