Roma vs Juventus 3-4: Old Lady Cancels Two-Goal Deficit

The battle between two of the most disappointing Serie A teams this season – Roma and Juventus – turned into an incredibly entertaining affair as the Bianconeri pulled off a thrilling 3-4 win. It was one of those games that go straight down in the history of Serie A and arguably the most exciting matchup seen this season in the Italian top-flight.

Juventus won bragging rights after performing an incredible comeback, finding new life from substitute coach Marco Landucci’s changes right after Lorenzo Pellegrini’s perfect free kick had brought the score at 3-1 for the home side. The Bianconeri netted three goals in seven minutes and, ironically, the Giallorossi captain turned from hero into culprit as he failed to draw level for Roma with a sloppy penalty kick conversion.

Roma would have arguably deserved to salvage at least one point but the law of calcio is ruthless. Neither team will likely be battling for the title but they surely put up a good show at the Stadio Olimpico tonight.   

Debut from the Start for Maitland-Niles and Afena-Gyan

José Mourinho couldn’t wait to showcase his new jewel Ainsley Maitland-Niles and, also due to Rick Karsdorp’s absence at right wing-back, deployed him from the start two days after he completed his transfer from Arsenal. Gianluca Mancini, who was also serving a one-match ban, was replaced by Bryan Cristante at center back while Tammy Abraham’s attacking partner upfront was 19-year-old Felix Afena-Gyan, who thus collected his first cap as a starter.

Juventus also had their share of problems with lining up their formation. On top of Massimiliano Allegri’s absence, who was disqualified for the game, the Bianconeri had to deal with a patched up center back line with Daniele Rugani supporting Matthijs De Ligt as both Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini were unavailable. The offensive trident saw Paulo Dybala joining Federico Chiesa and Moise Kean while Alvaro Morata sat on the bench. 

Dybala’s Magic Cancels Abraham’s Lead

Abraham was the first to scare Wojciech Szczesny with a header just a few minutes after kick off but the Polish goalkeeper defused the challenge. He couldn’t do much, however, on 11 minutes as the Englishman opened the scoring for Roma, finalizing a winning combination seen many times from the Giallorossi this season. From a Jordan Veretout corner kick, Abraham jumped way higher than his marker Rugani and headed the ball home undisturbed.

Juventus felt the hit and the following minutes were a yellow-and-red monologue. De Ligt fell back into his bad habit of keeping his arms wide stretched in the box and was hit on his hand by a Lorenzo Pellegrini shot. The Giallorossi protested vehemently but the referee didn’t award any penalty. Then, it was Cristante to test Szczesny from outside the box. 

Things could get frustrating for the visitors but Paulo Dybala was quick to pull the Bianconeri out of a tricky situation with a clinical curl shot that leveled things up on 18 minutes. That was the only spark ignited by an Juventus offensive trio where Kean mostly appeared out-of-place.

To make things worse for the Old Lady, Landucci lost Chiesa to a knee injury and had to replace him with Dejan Kulusevski. Roma and Mourinho were luckier as Abraham also seemed destined to leave the pitch but the former Chelsea player gritted his teeth and went on.

All in all, the Portuguese coach could be happy with what he saw in the first half as Roma were way more aggressive than their black-and-white counterpart and were denied their lead only because of Dybala’s magic trick. Indeed, the Giallorossi came closer to make it two right before the break as Chris Smalling headed the ball from close range but saw his effort unluckily deflected by Abraham.

Juventus to Hell and Back in High-Tension Second Half

Roma didn’t have to wait much to put their heads ahead for the second time. Luck was still on their side when Mattia De Sciglio’s deflection turned Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s screamer from outside the box into a deadly high ball that left no chance to poor Szczesny.

Then, Pellegrini decided to outclass Dybala in the race for the best goal of the night with a stunning free-kick conversion that sent the ball right into the top corner of the net and made Roma legend Francesco Totti rub his hands from the stands. The battle at the Stadio Olimpico seemed over.

On 62 minutes, Morata was sent in in Kean’s place while Arthur replaced Bentancur in the midfield. There was still much life in the Bianconeri and Manuel Locatelli clearly showed it a few minutes later with a clinical header to make the best out of a Morata cross from the right side.

Morata’s addition truly reanimated Juventus. On 72 minutes, the Spaniard received the ball from Weston McKennie and saw his close range shot deflected. Kulusevski promptly went for the tap in and fired the ball into the back of the net. It took two minutes for the goal to be allowed as referee Davide Massa had to check the VAR to rule out a possible offside position.

Juventus insisted and completed their comeback when McKennie picked De Sciglio on the left flank and the Milan youth academy product bested the Roma defense to bring the score at an improbable 3-4. The whole Giallorossi defense package was to blame in the occasion: Roger Ibanez and Chris Smalling were caught by surprise by De Sciglio’s movement whereas Rui Patricio failed to cover the near post from the former Milan left back’s tight-angled shot. 

Roma had needed seven minutes to build a two-goal cushion. The Bianconeri managed to score three in the same time span. 

With the match completely overturned, De Ligt’s hand (again!) came to Roma’s rescue as the Dutchman clumsily deflected with his elbow an overhead shot from Abraham. He scored a red card in the process and gift-wrapped a penalty to the Giallorossi. Still, the drama was not over as captain Lorenzo Pellegrini’s hideous spot-kick was saved by Szczesny.

Landucci shored up his defense by sending in Chiellini while Mourinho threw Carles Perez and Borja Mayoral in the mix, basically switching to an ultra-offensive 4-2-4 setup. 

The closest that Roma came to equalize was from a tricky Carles Perez shot that was deflected by the Bianconeri defense, while the last emotion came from an Abraham incursion in the box that Szczesny defused with a perfectly-timed slide.

What’s Next for Roma and Juventus

It will not be easy for José Mourinho and Roma to put such a disappointment behind themselves. With their ninth league loss this season, they plummeted to the eighth place in the table – nine points away from a Champions League spot. They will face relegation-battling Cagliari at home on January 16.

Juventus, on the other hand, managed to defend their fifth spot and avoided to lose track of fourth-placed Atalanta. Their next test will see them face Inter in the Italian Super Cup on Wednesday, before squaring off against Udinese at the Allianz Stadium next Saturday.



January 9, 2022 – Serie A 2021-2022 Round 21

SCORERS: 11′ Abraham (R), 17′ Dybala (J), 48′ Mkhitaryan, 55′ Lo. Pellegrini (R), 70′ Locatelli (J), 73′ Kulusevski (J), 77′ De Sciglio (J)

ROMA (3-5-2): Rui Patricio; Ibanez, Cristante, Smalling; Matiland-Niles, Lo. Pellegrini (78′ Borja Mayoral), Veretout (78′ Carles Perez), Mkhitaryan, Vina; Afena-Gyan (71′ Shomurodov), Abraham (Mastrantonio, Boer, Calafiori, Reynolds, Zalewski, Kumbulla, Vllar, Bove, El Shaarawy) Coach: Mourinho
JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Szczesny; Cuadrado, de Ligt, Rugani, De Sciglio; McKennie, Locatelli, Bentancur (63′ Arthur); Dybala (82′ Chiellini), Kean (64′ Morata), Chiesa (32′ Kulusevski) (Perin, Senko, Lu. Pellegrini, Bernardeschi, Rabiot, Kajo Jorge, Aké) Coach: Landucci (replacing Allegri)

REFEREE: Mr. Massa from Imperia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Veretout, Ibanez, Cristante (R), Cuadrado, De Ligt, Locatelli (J); Red Card: De Ligt (J); Added Time: 1st Half: 4′, 2nd Half: 6′