5 March 2008. Roma were in Madrid to face the current La Liga leaders and European giants. Thanks to goals from David Pizzaro and step over genius turned rapist Amantino Mancini, the Gialorossi entered the Bernabeau with a slim 2-1 aggregate advantage.
After a decent opening 45 minutes that saw Alberto Aquilani smash the crossbar from range (a common theme throughout his tenure at Roma), Spalletti’s men caught a break when Pepe was sent off in the 71st minute for a second yellow. Just two minutes later, Max Tonetto lofted in an absolutely perfect cross from the left, where one of the unlikeliest of heroes was there for an incredible on-the-run glancing header into the far post past Casillas. Of course, that hero would be the Roman legend that is Rodrigo Taddei, sending the settore ospiti into a frenzy in the upper levels of the Bernabeu.
The celebrations would be short lived, as Raul would equalize just minutes later for Real. Schuster pushed his men up the pitch, searching for a second that would send the tie to extra time. It wasn’t to be, as a stoppage time free kick from the right off the foot of Christian Panucci was met by the wonderful head of Mirko “Vucipants” Vucinic, securing Roma’s advancement to the Quarter Finals.
Ten years. It has been TEN YEARS since this wonderful match, and more importantly with next week’s fixture looming large, it has been TEN YEARS since Roma have advanced to the Quarter Finals in the Champions League. Here’s to hoping history repeats itself based on years, not based on opponents.
I miss that team.