Ten years ago these two sides faced off in the knock-outs of the Champions League, this time they had to be content with a match-up in the less prestigious EL. Coach Spal dropped a (albeit small) bombshell by saying he desperately wants a prize at the end of the season or he could leave Rome. Juve could be tempted as Allegri might follow in Antonio Conte's footsteps. So knowing this, if I were a Roma player tonight, I'd play a damn good game against Lyon to ensure that EL trophy stays up for the grabs. Not only for the morale and money, but for Luciano as well...
The line-up didn't hold any surprises, Jesus replaced Rüdiger at the back, with Emerson and Peres as wingbacks. Up front the usual trident: Radja, Salah and the man with a plan (well, sometimes, right?) Edin Dzeko. A lot of firepower was still on the bench though: Paredes, SES, Perotti and Totti. Chez Lyon Fekir was surprisingly benched as Ghezzal and Valbuena supported Lacazette. Former Roma derby hero Yanga sat next to Fekir.
Of course it had to be Belgian beast Radja who fired a first warning, followed by a good save from Lopes. Dzeko thought he played at LW and provided Salah with a decent chance, but Mo wasted the opportunity. Strootman would have been a better choice since he was unmarked.
Even though Roma started as the better side in this game, Lyon scored the 1-0 against the run of play, after a free-kick was dropped in Roma's box and defender Diakhaby put it past a baffled Alisson. Well, so much for caring about Spalletti's future... An away goal was now a must if they wanted to keep their chances alive. Yet it was Lyon who had nearly scored a second one, by 'Giuly's smaller brother' Valbuena. No really, he's THAT small.
After that Roma were in control of the game. Around minute 20 there was a dramatic moment from goal scorer Diakhaby, as he childishly slipped away in his own half and gave Salah a clearcut chance that the Egyptian didn't waste: 1-1 and that precious away goal was in the bag, with a big fat pink ribbon around it thanks to Diakhaby. What would Mapou think about that?
Both sides now chased a second goal in a very enjoyable first half, the tempo rarely settled down. It nearly was 1-2 after a quick Salah counter reached Strootman but his shot was right at the keeper. Moments later Fazio rose to the occasion (quite literally) with a powerful header on a perfect cross from regista
Pirlo De Rossi. Roma now dominated this thing. Just watch Radja's one-timed pass/tackle/no pass/no, it was a tackle/clearly a pass to Dani right after the corner, a thing of beauty.
Gonalons and Valbuena couldn't surprise Alisson from afar while Lacazette was left frustrated by Manolas and Fazio, it was a good first half from the Argentine after his horrible stint last week. Welcome back Federico!
Alas, how I was wrong. The second half started with a couple of bangs, as Tolisso released a missile towards Alisson, 2-2. In fairness maybe Alisson could have saved it, but it sure was a powerful shot and perhaps his view was blocked by Roman defenders. Minutes after the 2-2, Roma waisted a golden opportunity to immediatly make it 2-3 as Salah, Radja, Dzeko and Strootman all ran towards Lyon's goal but they didn't take advantage of their supremacy. Edin also missed the taget after some sloppy defending.
Lyon, and especially Valbuena and Lacazette, gained momentum and Roma were pushed back by Olympique, forcing a couple of saves out of Alisson. To make things worse, Fekir joined the party for Lyon. And he beautifully made it 3-2, as he made the entire backline of Roma look like fools. Roma happened, and when it does, it hurts like f*ckin hell.
Roma on the ground and Lyon kept attacking, including penalty appeals after Manolas fouled a Lyon dude in the box. All this while a stubborn Spalletti refused to make a sub until minute 81, which was way too late anyway. Emerson and Salah were clearly gassed. Paredes and Perotti entered the pitch, as Roma hopelessly searched for a third away goal but didn't really test Lopes.
On the contrary: Lacazette, Fekir and Tolisso almost scored a fourth, Manolas almost got his second yellow. And then, oh boy, Lacazette happened. A wonderful strike that made it 4-2 and it might be a vital goal in the end. As expected Roma didn't release its inner Barcelona and failed to score three times in the closing stages. Final whistle. Another painful loss in Roma's history books.
Lyon and Roma in March, it was once again an entertaining night but this time for the home fans. Then again, how many times have we seen this before? A good display in the first half was exchanged with a bad one in the second half, conceding three goals due to a rejuvenated Lacazette and Fekir.
Roma now need to score at least two goals at the Olimpico while not letting Lacazette or Fekir score one. Yeah, probably too much to handle for this side, which just lost three times in a row, is fatigued and looks mentally broken.
AS Roma has just thrown away three prizes in the space of one week, and it probably sealed Spal's future doing so. Let that one sink in for a moment.
I just have one more thing left to say: Fuck you March.