Welp, that was disappointing. The Giallorossi went into the match with a golden opportunity to affirm their title aspirations, with a win catapulting them to second in the table and one point behind league leaders Napoli. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be, as Roma conceded late in a hard-fought contest at the Olimpico.
Spurned on by a booming home crowd, Roma dominated the opening 15 minutes of the match, stifling Napoli whenever they had possession and consistently threatening to score on the counter.
Roma had the first clear-cut chance of the match when Mady Camara intercepted the ball in midfield and had Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini on the break. Camara found Tammy in space, but in an attempt to play Pellegrini as he cut across goal, Abraham's pass went out of bounds.
As the match approached the half-hour mark, Napoli began to grow in the game and started showing flashes of the brilliance they've displayed so far this season. And although Napoli started to flex their muscles, Roma held firm and looked just as likely to score as Napoli whenever they tried to hit on the counter.
Napoli had a penalty awarded when Tanguy Ndombele was brought down by Rui Patricio as Rui when down for the ball, but a brief VAR check revealed that Patricio got the slightest touch on the ball with his fingers before making contact with Ndombele and so the penalty was rescinded.
While there were some promising signs in the first half, Roma went into the break with no shots on target; a disappointing return given how hard the Giallorossi played in the first half.
The second half didn't start as intensely as the first half had, with both teams wary of making that dreaded first mistake that led to a goal. And if not for Chris Smalling, Roma would've been the first team to blink when Tammy Abraham frustratingly saw his pockets picked near midfield, kicking off a Napoli counter-attack that saw the deadly Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who had been kept quiet to that point, fire a venomous shot across goal. But in true Smalldini fashion, the Englishman slid in time to catch the shot and got enough on the ball to clear it. As the game passed the hour mark, Napoli began to turn the screws, looking increasingly likely to score, to the point that even our old friend Juan Jesus had a quality look on goal.
In desperate need to switch things up and inject new life into his players, José Mourinho made his first substitution of the night, bringing on Andrea Belotti for Tammy Abraham. The pace of the game slowed for a spell after Belotti came on, right up until the 70th minute, where Zaniolo found space in behind and narrowly got a pass across goal as he was going out of bounds, which was pushed out by Alex Meret right onto the feet of Pellegrini. Pellegrini was able to lay the ball off for Camara, but the ball was marginally too slow, which gave the defender enough time to slide and get in front of the ball. The ball ricocheted right toward the path of Chucky Lozano, who went on a blistering run and found Victor Osimhen on the wrong side of Roger Ibanez right outside of the box. Fortunately, Osimhen's shot narrowly went wide.
Roma may have been lucky in that instance, but it didn't take long for their luck to turn. The 80th minute saw Napoli play a ball in behind for Osimhen, and although it looked like Smalling had it covered at the onset, the Nigerian was able to outmuscle Smalling and get off a shot from an impossible angle, and rifle the ball past a helpless Patricio, making no mistake this time.
From the get-go, the match felt like one of those occasions where the team that scored first would be the winner, and that's exactly how this one played out. Roma pushed hard for the equalizer in the remaining 10 minutes of normal time plus an additional 5 minutes of extra time, but to no avail as the Giallorossi saw their 3-match win-streak in the league come to an end.
In case you missed any of the action, enjoy the highlights below. If you want a deeper look, here is the extended highlight package.