Despite dropping points to Lazio and Sassuolo in successive matches, there was cause for optimism in the Eternal City this afternoon. With Paulo Dybala returning to the matchday squad for the first time in nearly a month, and with players like Cristian Volpato suddenly giving Roma's beleaguered attack extra options, Roma fans weren't exactly cowering in fear at the site of ninth-place Torino as the Giallorossi played host to their northern neighbors today in the Italian capital.
With sixty thousand fans filling the Stadio Olimpico to the brim, the stage was set for a statement match as José Mourinho and the Giallorossi looked to head into the World Cup break on a high note. Down club captain Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma had their work cut out for them. Still, with Volpato and Nicolo Zaniolo playing behind Tammy Abraham in attack, the capital crew figured to have enough firepower to handle Torino.
Through the first 45 minutes, that assumption proved dead wrong. With only 47% possession and three shot attempts (none of which were on goal), Roma struggled to play with any sense of fluidity in the final third. While there were a few near misses, Roma nearly caught a break midway through the first half when they were initially awarded a penalty for a Torino handball in the box, but a quick VAR appeal deemed the contact was incidental, removing Roma's best chance in the first half.
After such a putrid display, Mourinho immediately went to the bench to start the second half, swapping out Volpato for Stephan El Shaarawy. As he often does, El Shaarawy threw himself straight into the action, firing a shot at Torino's goal on his first touch.
With both sides struggling to make a dent in the back of the net, this match seemed destined to finish nil-nil, but the visitors quickly changed the tune in the 55th minute when Karol Linetty scored his first Serie A goal in two years, rising above several flat-footed Roma defenders to bury a free header.
Mourinho would empty the bench in the 70th minute, giving Benjamin Tahirovic his club debut while bringing Andrea Belotti and Paulo Dybala into the fold for the home stretch. Dybala did his very best to inspire Roma to greater heights, but another second-half sub, Nemanja Matic, would save the day in stoppage time.
After Belotti bottled a penalty attempt in the 91st minute, striking the left upright, Matic saved the day in the 94th minute after he lashed a Dybala rebound past Vanja Milinkovic-Savic from 20 yards out to steal a point at the death.
In case you missed any of the action, please enjoy the highlights—an extended version is also available.