One of my favorite aspects of a sport is just how entertaining the last few minutes of a close match are, football in particular, where extra-time often produces a script that you couldn’t have imagined. Emotions are high, the seconds feel like an eternity if you’re the team holding on for dear life, the clock has never moved quicker if you’re the team on the front foot, and the drama is at its zenith. And even if the game ultimately ends in a nil-nil draw, or whatever dissatisfying scoreline you can come up with, you come away with a surge in adrenaline that just isn’t there for the majority of the match.
Well, that’s exactly what we got in the Giallorossi’s 1-0 victory over Spezia, with Tammy Abraham coolly slotting home a penalty awarded deep into extra-time to give Roma the narrow win on the day, snapping a four-match winless run in all competitions and avoiding a fourth straight draw in the league. In a season where the referees, VAR, and ridiculously lengthy reviews have all played starring roles in Roma’s matches to various degrees, it was nice to finally see the Giallorossi on the other side of the decisions, although we here at CdT HQ express our condolences to Nicolo Zaniolo’s face, which sacrificed itself to secure the penalty for Roma.
With Mourinho absent from the sideline and the team in a poor run of form, going up against a Spezia side that has demonstrated a knack for troubling Roma in recent years was a less than ideal proposition and it was fair to worry going into the match about the potential for more points dropped. A Spezia red card late in the first half went a long way in erasing any fears of a Roma defeat, but this game was once again defined by Roma’s inability to finish their chances, a storyline that has consistently followed this team throughout the course of the season so far.
As extra-time approached the match seemed destined for a nil-nil finish, which would’ve been a frankly embarrassing result for Roma, given that they played the entirety of the second half a man up and given the number of chances created. And try as they might in extra time, Roma just could not break through, Spezia’s goal appearing to be impenetrable. Despite Spezia’s keeper, Ivan Provedel, giving a clear MotM performance, Roma finally broke through on the final free-kick of the game, with Zaniolo taking a boot to the face, drawing blood from the Roma youngster and a penalty for the Giallorossi. A calm and composed Abraham penalty later and Roma were able to exhale and enjoy a much-needed three points.
In case you missed any of the actions, enjoy the highlights below. If you want a deeper look, here is the extended highlight package.