Alright, everybody, feel free to exhale now. This team really knows how to keep us on our toes, huh? As I hinted at in our Lineups & Game Thread piece this afternoon, aside from instances where teams are blown out in the first leg, second leg fixtures never fail to offer up an extra dimension of drama and intrigue. Of course, Roma’s match against Vitesse was no different, as the away side managed to level the tie on aggregate and very nearly forced extra-time but for a very late Tammy Abraham equalizer, which sent the Olimpico into a frenzy and punched Roma’s ticket into the Conference League quarterfinals.
The less said about the first half, the better, as the Giallorossi seemed determined to merely hold Vitesse to a draw, not really forcing the issue in the attack and seemingly content to play for the clean sheet. As a result, Vitesse looked far more up for the match and predictably pushed the issue, needing an early equalizer if they had any hope of winning the tie within 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, the first 15 minutes or so of the second half didn't generate much more excitement than the first, with the Giallorossi again clearly content riding their luck and playing for a draw. Fortunately, for the sake of the match and Vitesse—and unfortunately for Roma—the Dutch side pulled level in the 62nd minute, courtesy of a Maximillian Wittek strike. Unsurprisingly, this turn of events opened the game up, with the Giallorossi desperate to avoid extra-time in advance of the derby on Sunday. But as the clock ticked ever closer to the final whistle, it became more and more likely that Roma were going to have to dig deep in extra time to come out on top.
Enter, Tammy Abraham. With the clock winding down and Roma pushing for the equalizer, SES was able to find Rick Karsdorp making a run at the back post, who in turn was able to cross the ball to Tammy for the simple header and equalizer. A few short minutes of extra-time later and the Giallorossi could finally exhale and say mission accomplished.
It wasn’t pretty by any means, but as we like to say here at CdT, “A win is a win is a win”, particularly in the context of a knockout competition. Now that Roma have secured passage to the quarterfinals, they can look forward to tomorrow’s draw - with Leicester City, PSV, Marseille, and our good friends Bodo/Glimt all potential opponents for the Giallorossi. More importantly, however, Roma can now look forward to Sunday’s massive clash with Lazio, with city bragging rights and a spot in the top five of the table all on the line.
In case you missed any of the action, enjoy the highlights below.