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Heavy defeat for Roma

Champions League rivals crash 5-1

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AS Roma have warmed up in the worst possible way for Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Bayern with a thumping 5-1 defeat away to Cagliari Calcio in the second round of matches in Italy. Last term’s Serie A runners-up lost both the points and Argentine defender Nicolas Burdisso to a red card on just 22 minutes. The defeat was Roma heaviest in 11 years.

Ironically enough, it was Daniele Conti, son of former Roma legend and current director of sport Bruno Conti, who set unfancied Cagliari on their way to victory with the eighth-minute opener. Daniele De Rossi levelled ten minutes later, but following Burdisso’s dismissal, Alessandro Matri (23, 47), Robert Acquafresca (38) and Andrea Lazzari (88) ensured the points stayed on Sardinia.

Conti seriously injured

A 15,000 crowd at Stadio Sant‘ Elia saw Cagliari make the perfect start, skipper Conti handing his side the early lead with a firm drive from the edge of the box. The Giallorossi hit back and equalised courtesy of De Rossi’s 18th-minute header.

The game then turned on the sending-off incident four minutes later. Burdisso’s brutal penalty-area foul on Conti left the home skipper needing fully 30 stitches in a huge gash on his thigh. The Argentine received his marching orders, and Matri scored from the spot to put the home side 2-1 up.

Remarkable evening

At a goal and a man down, Roma were always on the back foot after that, with coach Claudio Ranieri sacrificing captain Francesco Totti in order to shore up the defence by sending on Guillermo Burdisso. It was to no avail as Acquafresca headed his side into a 3-1 half-time lead.

Matri effectively sealed the outcome with a five-yard header just two minutes after the restart, before Andrea Lazzari finished off a counter-attack two minutes from time to round off a memorable evening from a Cagliari point of view.

Totti unworried

“It’s a heavy defeat, but I’m not worried about the Champions League match in Munich,” Roma captain Totti declared. Villain of the piece Nicolas Burdisso was inconsolable afterwards, accepting full responsibility for the defeat and apologising profusely to Conti. “I’m really, really sorry. I hope he plays again before I do.”