For a match that was originally slow, sloppy and sodden with rain, the replay couldn't have been more different. Picking up where they left off in February, this match was a mad dash from the ninth to the ninetieth minute, as Roma and Parma collided in a six goal thriller.
We'll save the statistical analysis for another day, but the run of play between the 12th and 16th minutes really was a microcosm for the entire match; it was fast, it was furious and it was wide opened--defense was not the order of the day for either side. However, the numbers back up what you just witnessed: two clubs, 28 combined shots and six goals, so let's take a look at today's match, one that featured a birthday blast from Miralem Pjanic, Totti's 234th and Taddei's first since 2011-2012.
Gervinho 12th Minute: Tapped in off Rebound
Although the goal itself was a bit fluky, the buildup and movement was sublime. It started with an incredibly played long ball from Rodrigo Taddei, who picked out Gervinho streaking down the left flank; it was perfect in weight and measure, as it found Gervinho in stride and with ample room to run. From there Gervinho took a few touches, laid it off to Totti at the top of the 18, who slipped it over to Destro, whose shot then caromed off the post and fell right to the wide open Ivorian who settled it and tapped it in.
Afriyie Acquah 15th Minute: Right Footed
While this was a fine goal from a player not known for scoring, it was largely due to some incredibly poor defending from Roma. The foundation of this goal was nothing remarkable, just a simple chip from outside of the 18-yard box, but watch as four defenders surround Acquah, yet neither Taddei, Mehdi Benatia, Leandro Castan or Vasilis Torosidis could strip the ball away. Pay particular attention to Torosidis here; as Acquah is receiving the ball, Torosidis overcommits just a tad, his momentum carrying him the right, affording Acquah just enough space as he makes the turn to get off the shot. Not the most egregious error we've ever seen, but it was just enough to make this moment possible.
Francesco Totti 16th Minute: Right Footed, Upper Corner
Roma wouldn't wait long for retribution; however, as Totti's 234th career Serie A goal put the Giallorossi back on top. While Totti's shot was gorgeous, it would not have been possible were it not for the magic of Miralem Pjanic. The birthday boy's dribbling and vision created Totti's scoring chance. The beauty of this play is Pjanic's composure under duress; notice as he moves towards the goal, he's surrounded by four Parma defenders, with one more in chase. Pjanic keeps cool, keeps moving and looks up at just the right moment to find Totti wide open, the defenders all pulled off by Pjanic's movements.
Fantastic movement, perfect shot.
Miralem Pjanic 49th Minute: Right Footed Follow Up
While the match would get a bit more tame in the closing moments of the first half, Gervinho's dribbling and pace created another scoring chance for Roma. In typical fashion, Gervinho dribbled headlong into four Parma defenders, ran into trouble, but was able to maintain possession after his shot was initially blocked, and smartly peeled off as he saw the onrushing Pjanic ready to pounce on the goal.
Rodrigo Taddei 82nd Minute: Header
There's no mystery on this one, Rodrigo Taddei just put himself in perfect position on this corner kick, alluding multiple defenders, getting just enough of his head on the ball to flick it past Mirante. Taddei's goal, his first since the 2011-2012 season, effectively put the match to bed.
Jonathan Biabiany 90th Minute: Right Footed from 20 Yards
Listen, Biabiany is a hell of a player, one who has accounted for 12% of the goals scored against Roma this season, but Roma's defense on this play was about as complacent as it comes. With three touches and in a relatively confided space, Parma was able to pull off a series of touches and layoffs, practically waltzing around the Roma defenders.
It was ultimately just an academic goal, as Taddei's header really removed all doubt, but is certainly looked like Roma had one foot in the dressing room already.
With this exciting victory, Roma closed the Scudetto gap to a mathematically plausible eight points, but more importantly, pushed the lead over third place Napoli to nine points. Roma head to Sardinia on Sunday to take on 15th place Cagliari, Napoli takes on this very same Parma side, while Juve plays host to 18th place Livorno on Monday night.
One way or another, Roma's grasp on second place should become all but official by early next week.