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Sinners & Saints: Roma 4, Spezia 3

There was no upset this time, thanks in large part to Lorenzo Pellegrini and Borja Mayoral.

AS Roma v Spezia Calcio - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

The fan reaction to yesterday's 4-3 victory over Spezia ran the full gamut of Roma emotions. From the elation of watching a born and bred Roman score a last-ditch winner to the pure empathy of witnessing Paulo Fonseca embrace his players, and yes, even to the segment of fans who didn't view a last-second winner against lowly Spezia as anything worthy of praise, Saturday's match against Spezia was practically the perfect encapsulation of the Roma experience. What other clubs could produce such a wide range of outcomes in such a short time?

No matter how you viewed this match, Roma got precisely what they needed: three points. And thanks to that victory, as well as the rest of the results around the league (as of Sunday morning), Roma are safe and secure in third place; one point ahead of fourth-place Atalanta, pending the outcome of Sunday's fixtures.

And, as one would expect in a match as wild as this one, the range of player performances was nearly as varied as the fan's reactions.

The Sinners

AS Roma v Spezia Calcio - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Pau Lopez

Just when you thought he was turning a corner and taking advantage of Antonio Mirante's continued absence, Lopez reminded us all of who exactly he is: an unsteady and often erratic keeper. Tested only six times, Lopez wasn't exactly busy yesterday afternoon but his bungling attempt to clear the ball off the goal line quickly turned into an accidental assist, as he actually deflected the ball right into Roberto Piccoli's path, gifting Spezia with a 24th-minute goal.

Lopez's heart was in the right place—he was desperately trying to stop the ball from trickling over the goal line—but unfortunately, his hands were not.

Chris Smalling

Roma's number six did some good yesterday, but his missed clearance/interception attempt on the ball that set up Daniele Verde's 90th-minute equalizer was hard to ignore.

Carles Pérez

I still think there's a dangerous footballer lying somewhere in this young Spaniard, but, in a rare start yesterday, Pérez failed to stake claim to further playing time. In 88 minutes, Pérez was largely ineffective apart from his two successful dribbles, losing possession 15 times (second-most in the match from both sides) and missing a clear cut chance when Ivan Provedel parried Pellegrini's shot right to Pérez, who promptly fired the ball into the side netting.

The Saints

AS Roma v Spezia Calcio - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

Borja Mayoral

Pellegrini's match-winner may have stolen the headlines, but Roma would have been lost yesterday without Mayoral. Starting in place of the injured Edin Dzeko, Mayoral went the full 90, pumping four shots on goal, setting up three others, and scoring two goals—his third brace of the season.

Despite playing a fraction of the minutes of the men ahead of him—Dzeko, Mkhitaryan, and Veretout—Mayoral's five league goals are third-most on the squad. He is definitely making the case for more significant minutes this season, but will Fonseca listen?

Lorenzo Pellegrini

It's only a matter of time before Pellegrini assumes the mantle as the club's next Roman captain, but today was further evidence that the kid who once carried Totti's equipment is a fitting heir to the captain's armband.

In 90 minutes yesterday, Pellegrini fired six shots on goal, including four on target, completed 89% of his passes, completed 3-of-3 dribbles, drew five fouls, and was a perfect 2-for-2 on long-ball attempts.

Put the numbers aside for a minute and it just feels like Pellegrini is playing with more confidence, aggression, and passion than he ever has before. Footballers, just like the rest of us, mature at different rates and when we look back on Pellegrini's career, 2021 might be the year we say he truly put things together.

Leonardo Spinazzola

After a mini-recession, Spinazzola bounced back yesterday and reminded us all of the player he's become over the past 12 months: poised, dynamic, and influential. Spinazzola completed 77% of his passes yesterday, set up three shots, completed six successful dribbles, three of six long-ball attempts, and assisted Rick Karsdorp's first-ever Roma goal.

Rick Karsdorp

I'm bending the rules here a bit because he didn't do a ton yesterday, but with his first-ever Roma goal, his redemption arch is now fully complete. It's becoming really hard not to root for this guy.

Stuck In-Between

AS Roma v Spezia Calcio - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

Gonzalo Villar: Poised as usual (89% passing, two interceptions) but not involved in any meaningful way

Jordan Veretout: He ran a bunch and set up a goal, but otherwise a fairly average run from JV; not that there's anything wrong with that.