Roma were able to secure Europa League football, whilst Spezia avoided the drop, for now, despite suffering a 2-1 defeat on the final day in Serie A. The Aquilotti will head to a relegation play-off against Verona for a place in Serie A next season as the league sees its first relegation play-off since 2005.
The Giallorossi needed the three points to wrap up their spot in the top-six as Juventus recorded a 1:0 away to Udinese. Jose Mourinho’s side made their task difficult after going a goal down inside the opening ten minutes but fought back through Nicola Zalewski and a late penalty from Paulo Dybala to just about secure the victory.
Nikolaou Silences Olimpico
It was the visitors who struck first here as Dimitrios Nikolaou was able to fire home at the back post with a header. Mehdi Bourabia had found the Greece international with a fine cross from the edge of the box as Spezia continued in their fight for survival. Roma were perhaps feeling the hangover from playing midweek in a taxing Europa League final that reached 140 minutes of action.
Stephan El Shaarawy tested the Spezia goal just a few minutes after but Jeroen Zoet was able to turn the ball over the bar. The hosts started to grow into the game more from there on in but couldn’t get past the Dutch ‘keeper Zoet as efforts from the likes of Andrea Belotti and Lorenzo Pellegrini failed.
Zalewski made it 1:1 with a beautiful inswinging cross from the left flank, cutting in onto his right foot. The ball evaded everyone in the box and beat Zoet too. A deserved equalizer for the Giallorossi. The two sides went in level at the break, with a point being enough for Spezia to evade the drop at that stage.
Roma and Spezia Locked in Battle
Roma started the second period strongly as Zalewski threatened down the right. His quality of cross posed questions all evening. The match subdued from there until Dybala came alive but he dragged his shot wide of the far past. Mourinho would turn to Tammy Abraham and Nemanja Matic off the bench.
Bourabia provided a danger at times down the left for Spezia as they largely looked to hit on the counter, utilising the physicality of M’bala Nzola. He attacked down the left-hand side once more for the away side and set up a good chance for Szymon Zurkowski but the Pole saw his sliding effort fly over the bar.
The match came alive with around 20 minutes to go as Roma responded. Dybala and Abraham combined well in and around the box which led to a penalty shout but, after a brief hiatus, play resumed with Spezia in possession.
Frantic End in the Capital
Tempers flared once more in the Roma camp with Gianluca Mancini getting lively over on the touchline. Soon after, Dybala was involved in a brawl in the middle of the park. The Giallorossi needed to win to ensure Europa League football next year in light of the news Juventus had taken the lead, whilst Verona were fighting back at the San Siro against Milan. Nerves were setting in for the Aquilotti.
An action-packed end to the match would continue as Kelvin Amian was dismissed for a second yellow after bringing down El Shaarawy in the box. Of course, it was none other than Dybala who stepped up to take the penalty and struck the ball past Zoet.
Plenty of additional time was added to add to the drama and excitement in what was a thrilling final day of Serie A action between Roma and Spezia. Thoughts move over now to the relegation play-off for Leonardo Semplici.