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Roma Rewind: The Night Vucinic Vanquished Chelsea

Mirko the Destroyer

AS Roma v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In addition to being Halloween, Tuesday marks another momentous occasion, the nine-year anniversary of Chelsea’s last trip to the Stadio Olimpico. With the blues holding a slim 1-0 aggregate advantage of Luciano Spalletti’s side, all they really needed to do was gut out a draw on their first trip to Rome in over 40 years. And what happened was anything but, Chelsea was completely undressed by Spalletti’s men, who ran their English counterparts off the pitch in grand fashion.

It was a bit of an unexpected victory because Roma was going through a bit of an identity crisis at the time, particularly in the Champions League. After falling to Cluj on matchday one, Roma tossed aside Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux side in a 3-1 affair before falling 1-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to a 77th minute goal from John Terry.

It was, in some ways, similar to their current Champions League predicament—not necessarily hanging on by a thread, but not exactly riding high. Making matters worse, Roma had lost four straight domestic matches heading into this crucial encounter, losing badly to Inter Milan, Udinese and Juventus in successive weeks.

It was your typical Roma crisis, one that was reversed by two extremely unlikely partners. In the 34th minute of the match, Christian Panucci got on the end of a Cicinho cross and, virtually unmarked, tucked it past a helpless Petr Cech to give Roma an early lead.

With the aggregate score leveled, Roma would need a bit of magic to seal this one, and 14 minutes later, that’s precisely what the received.

Fast forward to the 1:22 mark of that wonderful clip and you’ll see the most divine orchestration of attacking football this club has perhaps ever pulled off, as Francesco Totti, Matteo Brighi and Mirko Vucinic worked a three-man weave to perfection, gracefully gliding in from the left flank, passing and moving, before setting up Vucinic at the edge of the 18, where he summarily blasted one past Cech.

Vucinic would make fools of Chelsea about ten minutes later, dispossessing the ball and barreling down the pitch coast-to-coast to leave Cech twisting in the wind once more, sending the squad into hysterics and practically putting Frank Lampard in tears.

It was a glorious night, and one Roma must replicate tomorrow to keep their Champions League hopes alive.