Roma Women reached the highest point of their three-year history with victory in the Coppa Italia Femminile final on Sunday, beating Milan on penalties.
Neither side could break the deadlock within normal time or extra time, meaning the game was decided in the most tense fashion of all – and Roma came out on top. A 3-1 win on penalties enabled the squad to get their hands on a first ever trophy.
The 120 minutes leading up to the shootout were a tough ordeal, but Roma fought their way to the finishing line.
Here’s how Giallorossi Yorkshire rated the players.
Camelia Ceasar – 9Embed from Getty Images
The hero. Ceasar has always been a reliable presence in goal for Roma, but proved just how important she is when the spotlight was shining on her most brightly.
Saving two of Milan’s penalties and diving the right way for another that hit the post, Ceasar dominated the shootout. She stayed calm and confident and read the situation perfectly.
Even in normal time she impressed, parrying the ball away on a number of occasions to keep her clean sheet intact. It thus gave her the chance to rise to the occasion in the shootout and she did just that.
Angelica Soffia – 6
One of Roma’s most consistent players this season, Soffia displayed her usual work rate. However, the full-back missed that final moment of quality that she has regularly provided in previous games.
She stood up to the physicality of the game, but it took its toll on her as she had to go off after 69 minutes.
Allyson Swaby – 7.5
Having been one of Roma’s most dependable players all season, Swaby formed part of a resilient defensive unit that had to weather the storm throughout the two hours of action.
There were times when she looked like she might be caught out, but still managed to close off the space and frustrate Valentina Giacinti and Natasha Dowie.
Her best action came in extra time, when she brilliantly diverted a cross over the bar. It could have easily been an own goal, but she managed to clear the danger to keep Roma’s belief alive.
Elena Linari – 9
Linari has transformed Roma since her January arrival, so it was fitting that she put in another monstrous performance at the back in the final.
The centre-back defended like her life depended on it, keeping a dangerous Milan front two at bay. Sometimes she made mistakes in possession, but in her primary role of stopping the opponents, she was almost faultless.
Additionally, the number of times Milan were caught offside was testament to the strong defensive line between Linari and Swaby.
Elisa Bartoli – 7.5
Roma know what they are getting from Bartoli whenever she steps onto the pitch. The inspirational captain led by example once again, doing her defensive duties with confident application.
She didn’t roam forward as much as she sometimes does, but the flow of the game dictated that. Bartoli’s mentality shone through and was reflected in the team’s performance as a whole.
Vanessa Bernauer – 7.5Embed from Getty Images
Scorer of the winning penalty, Roma had a lot to thank Bernauer for. The images of her racing away in celebration after deciding the match deserve to go down in folklore.
In normal time, she formed part of a deep midfield duo that sometimes struggled to turn over possession, but rose to the challenge of breaking up play. She could have even been the hero for a different reason, when she went close with a powerful effort from outside the box in stoppage time.
Bernauer has enjoyed a solid end to the season and the reward came on Sunday.
Manuela Giugliano – 7
After getting booked early on, Giugliano was somewhat restricted and had to tread more carefully. It meant she couldn’t express herself in a manner that would do her justice, but she still had an influence on the game.
Taking the responsibility of standing over set pieces and contributing in open play, her relative experience was important for a game of this magnitude.
Lindsey Thomas – 8
Often acting as Roma’s outlet in the 90 minutes, Thomas looked most likely to create danger from the right wing. She drove into the box on a couple of occasions, almost drawing a penalty with one.
Later in the game, she went up front after a reshuffle from Betty Bavagnoli and continued to be a live wire for Milan’s back three to deal with.
Andressa Alves – 6
After only recently returning from injury, Roma didn’t know how much they could get out of Andressa. She gave all she could for the 81 minutes she was on the pitch, but it was tough for her to find the pockets of space she usually thrives in.
But the Brazilian still made her influence felt after going off. She gave a motivational talk to her teammates before the penalty shootout, which surely helped them gear up for that challenge.
Annamaria Serturini – 6.5
So often Roma’s attacking outlet, Serturini was less involved against Milan. She worked hard as always, though, and kept her cool to dispatch the second penalty.
Also important in the defensive phase, Serturini continued to prove her importance, even if it was in different ways to usual.
Paloma Lazaro – 6
Up against three defenders, Lazaro was starved of space. She still held the ball well and tried to bring others into play, but the final pass sometimes lacked the appropriate weight.
There were very few chances for her to get a clear sight of goal. The Spaniard worked from the front, though, until the dynamic changed slightly when she went off.
Kaja Erzen – 6
After replacing Soffia, Erzen slotted in at right-back and quickly got up to the pace of the game, even if she didn’t contribute too much going forward.
Giada Greggi – 6.5
It has been a difficult season for Greggi after a serious injury, but she has returned in determined fashion. Taking Andressa’s role was not easy, but she provided extra energy in the position.
Agnese Bonfantini – 7.5Embed from Getty Images
Probably the most unlucky player to not start the final, Bonfantini made no complaints and got straight to work when she did enter the action. Her positive dribbling gave Roma new direction and caused all sorts of problems for Milan.
Marija Banusic – 6
A last throw of the dice from Bavagnoli, Banusic was an extra attacking body for the second half of extra time and worked hard from the front.
Betty Bavagnoli – 9
She deserved this. Bavagnoli has been an astute leader ever since Roma’s formation and got the reward her work has merited.
The team spirit that allowed the players to be so competitive stems directly from the coach above them. Bavagnoli has instilled the right values in this squad, which allowed them to overcome a challenging match and a nervous penalty shootout.
She always conducts herself well in interviews and did so again after the game – before being interrupted to be mobbed by some of her players. Having already been thrown in the air by them earlier, it showed the high esteem her players rightly hold her in.