July 27, 2012
By Gerry Beatty
Roma edges El Salvador 2-1 in hard-fought contest
HARRISON, N. J.–Pablo Daniel Osvaldo scored on AS Roma's first shot of the game and Bojan Krkic broke a second-half tie as the Italian club edged El Salvador's national team, 2-1, in an international not-so-friendly at Red Bull Arena Friday night.
Isidro Gutiérrez pulled El Salvador even with a goal in the 49th minute before Krkic's game-winner in the 62nd. The game threatened to get out of control when Roma midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis' hard tackle knocked down midfielder Alexander Vidal Larin. The two tangled, Tachtsidis threw a punch, became enraged and was red-carded in the 81st minute.
Despite the obvious delay, referee Terry Vaughn blew his whistle after 45 minutes and 5 seconds, apparently not willing to risk further friction. There were also at least three incidents of water bottles thrown from the stands, and public-address announcements warned of punishment if the perpetrators were caught.
Roma concluded its American tour with three victories. It beat Poland's Zaglebie Lubin 4-0 at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 21 and England's Liverpool 2-1 at Fenway Park in Boston last Wednesday (July 26).
El Salvador, with Juan de Dios Castillo coaching his first match with La Azul, took a break from World Cup qualifying. It lost and tied its first two group matches, with four remaining in September and October.
The Giallorossi dominated the first half, outshooting the Central Americans 14-2, but failing to blow open the game. Goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo was forced to make six saves, and defenders blocked at least two others.
In Roma's first thrust, a steal in the midfield and a long pass sprung Osvaldo loose on the right side. His 15-yard kick smacked off the left post and caromed in with only 96 seconds off the clock.
The Italians substituted five pairs of fresh legs at halftime, but El Salvador took the play to Roma. The sudden aggressiveness paid off when Milton Alexander Molina found Gutiérrez just outside the box on the right side and the striker hammered a drive inside the left post. Then Krkic took a cross from the right by Marco Antonio Marquinho and struck a 15-yarder inside the left upright for the game-winner.
Roma goalie Bogdan Lobont was credited with one save in the first half and seven in the second. On three occasions he snuffed out breakaways, by Ricardo Ulloa, Edwin Ernesto Sanchez and Nelson Bonilla.
The noisy crowd of 14,651 was predominantly a sea of Salvadorean blue, outnumbering Roma's fans by 5 to 1 or more.
Roma, which finished seventh in Seria A last season, played striker Francesco Totti, newly acquired midfielder Michael Bradley–a New Jersey native–and defender Nicholas Andres Burdisso for a half.
El Salvador tied Costa Rica away and lost to Mexico at home in Group B of the North and Central American and Caribbean World Cup second round. After friendlies next month with Guatemala and Jamaica, it has a home-and-home with Guyana, then return matches with Costa Rica and Mexico. El Salvador has one point to Costa Rica's four and Mexico's six.