Diego Perotti's first-half penalty was enough for Roma to squeeze past a truly awful Crotone side as a heavily rotated Giallorossi did the minimum required. Roma hit the woodwork twice through their two form players Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov (who almost opened the scoring early on with a thumping half-volley) but in truth there was little to excite at the semi-deserted Stadio Olimpico.
Perotti's winning penalty only came about thanks to an outrageous dive from Kolarov that somehow slipped by both referee Gianluca Manganiello and the VAR operators, and three shots on target against a team that has already conceded 19 goals is a poor return.
However with Bologna at home at the weekend and above all Chelsea coming to Rome on Tuesday all that mattered was the result, and there was never any doubt that Roma would take all three points once Perotti rolled his spot kick past Alex Cordaz.
Coach Eusebio Di Francesco must be tearing his hair out after it was revealed right-back Rick Karsdorp has torn a cruciate ligament following his Roma debut following four months out thanks to knee surgery and various muscle injuries. His ACL tear is the 12th Roma have suffered since 2014 -- something that can't just be bad luck.
A win's a win, and this was an important one given that all the teams above them in the top four also picked up three points. It was good to see Karsdorp finally take his place at right-back, even if it was a low-key display from the Dutchman, and the seventh clean sheet for a defence that for a good couple of years had been a laughingstock.
Leaving aside Karsdorp's crushing injury, this was a thoroughly dreary encounter and a performance that will not make the thousands of fans who stayed at home regret their decision. Crotone parked the bus but that's no excuse for creating so few good chances. Just three shots on target against such lowly opposition, regardless of the weakened lineup and despite hitting the post and bar, isn't really good enough.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Huge turnover again for Di Francesco, who made seven changes to the team that scraped past Torino at the weekend. His job appeared to be to manage his players ahead of the two games coming up in the next few days, one of which is slightly more important than the other, and he did that well, bringing in Karsdorp, Maxime Gonalons and Gerson while also giving minutes to Alessandro Florenzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini. No doubt he'll make a similar number of changes for Bologna on Saturday night.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 6 -- Two easy shots on target to save. Must have been thoroughly bored.
DF Rick Karsdorp, 6 -- An understandably rusty Roma debut. Such a shame that he'll be out for another four months.
DF Federico Fazio, 7 -- Calm and composed in the face of lightweight opposition. Very smooth on the ball.
DF Hector Moreno, 6 -- Very comfortable alongside Fazio. Happy with the high line that Di Francesco wants to play.
DF Aleksandar Kolarov, 8 -- The man of the moment. Won the match with a shocking dive, and was very unlucky not to score with a pile driver shot and a free kick in first half.
MF Radja Nainggolan, 6 -- Full of aggression and effort, but below par again. He hasn't fully adjusted to the new regime yet.
MF Maxime Gonalons, 7 -- Took to the task of commanding the midfield with gusto, and moved the ball quickly as Di Francesco asks.
MF Gerson, 5 -- Didn't do enough of the forward running that Di Francesco wants. Subbed for Pellegrini.
FW Cengiz Under, 5 -- Created very little, and didn't link up with Karsdorp.
FW Edin Dzeko, 6 -- Hitting the bar for the fourth time this season is a sign that things aren't going your way.
FW Diego Perotti, 6 -- Scored the winning penalty but didn't create a whole lot else, despite his mazy dribbles.
FW Gregoire Defrel, 5 -- Lots of effort but little of substance. Fluffed one presentable opportunity.
MF Lorenzo Pellegrini, NR -- Brought on to reinvigorate the midfield, he had a lively 15 minutes.
DF Alessandro Florenzi, NR -- Replaced a tired Karsdorp. If he was worried about finding a place in the team he need worry no more.