Roma never looked right from the kick-off tonight, with Spezia pressing Roma high in the giallorosso half straight from the get-go. From that point on, half of Roma’s back six players were trying to out-do one another for the worst performance of the night—or maybe even the season.
Short, weak passes to teammates who are already marked? Check. Slipping on the pitch just when your team least needs you to? Check. Closing down your man aggressively only to get nutmugged for trying? Kumbulla’s performance, amongst many others, exemplified Roma’s approach to this game in the first half: Scared lifeless and hoping someone would put an end to the match.
Spezia goalscorers Daniele Verde (yes, him again) and Tommasa Pobega duly obliged, putting the home side firmly in the ascendancy by half-time. It was also a minor miracle that Rick Karsdorp’s frustration didn’t get the better off him, as he could have easily racked up yellows to spare in the first 45.
Roma responded at the break by bringing on Bryan Reynolds to play on the left flank for the second half and, thankfully, Stephan El Shaarawy taking no more than seven second-half minutes to slam a ball into the net and halve Spezia’s lead.
The Roma goal scored finally gave some life and energy to the match as a contest. Fonseca’s side began ramping up the pressure further, finding joy through Rick Karsdorp’s crossing down the right flank before Fonseca subbed off Mayoral and Darboe for Dzeko and Villar at the hour-mark.
But it was Roma’s next substitute, Javier Pastore, who put it on a plate for Bryan Cristante with a quarter of an hour left, and yet the Spezia keeper denied Cristante. Try as Spezia might to defend their slim lead, Roma wouldn’t be kept out by full-time.
Roma spent the last half-hour keeping Spezia firmly pushed back in their own half and using the distraction of fireworks going off around the stadium to equalize in the 86th minute, thanks to Edin Dzeko bringing down a ball in the air to assist Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal. And that was all she wrote for this season.
Roma finishes the league campaign by grafting a draw against Spezia and clawing their way into the Europa Conference League qualifiers. Take that, José Mourinho.