Serie A: Stephan El Shaarawy Stunner on Debut as Roma Edge Frosinone

Updated: 31 January 2016 07:26 IST

El Shaarawy signed for the Serie A club in midweek after French league side Monaco opted not to buy the striker outright.

Serie A: Stephan El Shaarawy Stunner on Debut as Roma Edge Frosinone
Stephan El Shaarawy celebrates after scoring for Roma on debut in the Serie A. © AP

Milan:

On-loan AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy admitted he had Zlatan Ibrahimovic to thank for a second-half wonder goal as Roma beat Frosinone 3-1 on Saturday to earn their first win under coach Luciano Spalletti.

El Shaarawy signed for the Serie A club in midweek after French league side Monaco opted not to buy the striker outright.

But Monaco's loss became Roma's gain as the 23-year-old, who is keen to work his way back into Italy's plans for this summer's Euro 2016 in France, connected with Ervin Zukanovic's short delivery to beat Nicola Leali with a spectacular heel flick on 48 minutes.

Radja Nainggolan had given Roma an 18th minute lead as he lay prone inside the area, only for Daniel Ciofani to finish off a great Frosinone move by firing under on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny six minutes later.

El Shaarawy's spectacular effort gave Roma a boost but it took until Miralem Pjanic's 84th minute strike for the hosts, who saw Francesco Totti come off the bench to make his long-awaited comeback, to begin playing with swagger.

The capital side remain in fifth place but have closed the gap on leaders Napoli, who host Empoli Sunday, to nine points. Frosinone's 14th defeat kept them second from bottom, seven points from safety.

For Spalletti, who led Roma to two Cup titles in his previous spell in charge, seeing his players celebrating for the first time felt like a "liberation".

"What stands out most is seeing the joy in the players' eyes as they hugged each other, it was like a liberation for them," said Spalletti, who admitted El Shaarawy's goal had been key.

"El Shaarawy's goal gave the lads a real boost. We did well all round, we moved the ball well and we haven't been doing that of late."

A rash of injuries meant Alessandro Florenzi, Vasilis Torosidis, Lucas Digne and Iago Falque were missing, prompting Spalletti to deploy a comparatively unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation that Roma struggled to master.

Indeed Frosinone, based 75km to the south of Rome, earned the first chance when an inviting ball was headed towards Leonard Blanchard at the back post, where an alert Zukanovic made a timely intervention to head over.

Roma broke the deadlock in somewhat chaotic fashion minutes later when Nainggolan stuck out a leg while he lay on the ground to prod past Leali from 12 yards.

But when Frosinone's leveller came, it was fully deserved.

A last-ditch tackle by Zukanovic on Ciofani only served to flick the ball up in front of the striker, who did well to control and fire through the legs of Szczesny on 24 minutes.

Roma spurned further chances before the interval when Leali tipped Nainggolan's 25-yard drive over and Bosnian Edin Dzeko seeing his drive tipped to safety by Leali after chesting El Shaarawy's cross down.

El Shaarawy restored Roma's lead three minutes after the restart when he somehow twisted his body to flick Zukanovic's short cross from the left to beat Leali from 12 yards.

He told Sky Sport: "I learned that from Ibrahimovic. To score a goal like that just leaves you with an unbelievable feeling.

"But more than anything I'm happy we won."

Frosinone coach Roberto Stellone admitted to Mediaset: "We had a great first half, but that backheeler killed us off. We got back into it, then Pjanic's goal ended all our hopes."

The visitors had calls for a penalty waved away when Dzeko used his upper arm to deflect Paolo Sammarco's piledriver from the edge of the area.

Minutes later, Dzeko was replaced by Totti, the Roma veteran making his return to competition after a lengthy injury lay-off.

Roma began to play with more confidence, but not until Pjanic's late strike.

The Bosnian did well to find space on the right, where he collected a long punt from midfield to run down unchallenged before beating Leali with a low strike at his far post from outside the area.

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