Pellegrini Last-Gasp Winner Saves Roma in 4-3 Thriller with Spezia

It would seem that when Roma and Spezia meet this season, it always ends in a goal-fest. In Serie A Round 19, the two sides squared off again at the Stadio Olimpico four days after the mid-week Coppa Italia match-up that saw the Aquilotti prevail 2-4 on the pitch.

Today, it was Roma to come on top at the end of a spectacular 4-3 drama, with captain Lorenzo Pellegrini scoring a winner for the Giallorossi well into added time, and right after Daniele Verde had drawn level for the visitor Bianconeri.

Roma desperately needed the three points after being routed by Lazio in the Derby della Capitale one week ago and then losing to Spezia in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 – adding pain to misery as they were handed a 0-3 loss because they made six substitutions during the game.

That was the second administrative blunder the Roma staff committed this season, following placing Amadou Diawara in the wrong player list in the first Serie A game and consequently receiving another 0-3 loss.

Add to that that the Giallorossi‘s captain Edin Dzeko is rumored to have had a clash with coach Paulo Fonseca, and you get why Roma’s Portuguese trainer must not have had an easy week – amid growing tensions and speculations that the Friedkin management are considering giving him the boot.

On top of that, Roma had a few key players missing for today’s game, with all their three regular offensive starters Pedro, Mkhitaryan, and Dzeko injured. Fonseca thus had to place Borja Mayoral in the center of the attack, supported by Carles Perez and by today’s captain Lorenzo Pellegrini. In defense, Marash Kumbulla returned as a starter in place of Gianluca Mancini.

Vincenzo Italiano’s Spezia were coming from three games undefeated but also had a few problems to solve in their lineup. Italiano was with no proper right-backs and had to adapt left-sided Cristian Dell’Orco in the position. With M’bala Nzola still injured, it was up to 19-year-old Roberto Piccoli to partner with Emmanuel Gyasi and Diego Farias on the front line.

First blood was for Roma, as on 16 minutes a long ball coming through Pellegrini found Borja Mayoral in the middle of the box. It was child’s play for the Spaniard to slot the ball home to tally his fourth Serie A goal this season.

But Spezia soon found themselves on level terms thanks to Roberto Piccoli’s second goal in the campaign. The Aquilotti‘s equalizer was a consequence of yet another horror show from Roma’s back line: Giulio Maggiore sent the ball through for Diego Farias, who took advantage of some sloppy marking on the part of Marash Kumbulla.  The Brazilian’s weak shot was poorly saved by Pau Lopez, leaving Spezia’s 19-year-old forward free to tap the ball in from point-blank range.

Too bad for Spezia that Piccoli’s game ended a few minutes later as the Atalanta loanee picked up an injury and was replaced by Andrey Galabinov – the big Bulgarian striker being just back from a long injury himself, after starting his Serie A season with three goals out of two games.

The Giallorossi were the most active side for the rest of the first period. Pellegrini tried to slot one into the corner from outside the box and Borja Mayoral looked for his second as he picked up a Gonzalo Villar cross and went for the shot after besting his market Julian Chabot. Both shots failed to hit the target, however.

On 44 minutes, the Roma captain tried to trouble the scorers one more time, drawing a lovely save from Spezia’s shot-stopper Ivan Provedel.

Paulo Fonseca’s side continued to attack after the restart and quickly built a two-goal advantage. On 52 minutes, Jordan Veretout served Borja Mayoral and the former Real Madrid man found the right spot into Provedel’s goal with a fine right-foot shot.

Three minutes later, it was Rick Karsdorp to make it to the scorecard, though most of the credit must go to Leonardo Spinazzola who made it easy for the Dutchman to finish from a clinical pass from the left side.

Vincenzo Italiano made two changes as he sent in Gennaro Acampora and Simone Bastoni and somehow managed to put his side promptly back on track. Spezia pulled one back on 58 minutes as Nahuel Estevez’s flank play released Diego Farias and the Brazilian easily dribbled past Kumbulla and Roger Ibanez before firing the ball past Pau Lopez.

Roma came threatening again from the right flank, with Jordan Veretout galloping all along the side and releasing a sharp shot from a tight angle that went all across the goal line but caused no harm.

When Amadou Diawara was sent in on 88 minutes, one could almost picture the Roma staff going through some sort of checklist. Is he in the right player list? Yes. Have we made less than five substitutions? Yes. Off you go, then.

The last three minutes were an absolute thriller with Spezia drawing level again, and once again thanks to a macroscopic defensive blunder from the opposition. This time, it was Chris Smalling to blame as he shockingly failed to intercept a seemingly-harmless Diego Farias long ball, leaving substitute Daniele Verde free to go against Pau Lopez and beat him for the third time.

But then again, from yet another Spinazzola descent along the left flank, Roma snatched their fourth and decisive goal, with Lorenzo Pellegrini finding the back of the net from a brilliant Bruno Peres service.

The Brazilian wing-back had replaced Karsdorp only a few minutes earlier. His ball control and fine pass for his captain gave three points to the Giallorossi and, supposedly, a less troubled week than the past one to coach Fonseca – though Edin Dzeko and the Friedkins may have a different opinion. Guess we will just have to wait and see.



January 23, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 19

SCORERS: 17′ Borja Mayoral (R), 24′ Piccoli (S), 52′ Borja Mayoral (R), 55′ Karsdorp (R), 58 Farias (S), 90′ Verde (S), 92′ Pellegrini (R)

ROMA (3-4-2-1): Pau Lopez; Ibanez, Smalling, Kumbulla; Karsdorp (81′ Bruno Peres), Villar (67′ Cristante), Veretout, Spinazzola; Carles Perez (88′ Diawara), Pellegrini, Borja Mayoral (Fuzato, Farelli, Darboe, Feratovic, Podgoreanu, Providence, Santon, Tall) Coach: Fonseca
SPEZIA (4-3-3): Provedel; Dell’Orco (58′ Bastoni), Terzi, Chabot (81′ Erlic), Marchizza; Estevez, Agoume, Maggiore (58′ Acampora); Gyasi (81′ Verde), Piccoli (31′ Galabinov), Farias (Krapikas, Agudelo, Deiola, Ismajli, Pobega, Ramos, Ricci) Coach: Italiano

REFEREE: Mr. Pairetto from Nichelino
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Carles Perez, Borja Mayoral, Pellegrini (R), Chabot (S); Extra Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 3′