Man, that was brutal. Fresh off the euphoric highs of reaching their first European final in over 30 years, the Giallorossi followed-up with an absolute stinker against Fiorentina, unable to recover from a dubious penalty decision five minutes into the match. In the grand scheme of things, this result doesn’t necessarily derail Roma’s season - a win in the Europa Conference League final is all that really matters - but for a team looking to finish on a high note in the league, this was a rough one.
Mourinho opted to go with much of his first-choice starting eleven for this one, illustrating just how important an objective it was for this team to finish in fifth place, and on current form you’d certainly take your chances with Roma given that Fiorentina went into the match on a run of three successive defeats in the league. Unfortunately, the football gods had other ideas.
A running theme for Roma this season - one we’ve discussed ad nauseum on the podcast - is how conceding early forces you to toss the game-plan out the window, and this match was no exception. Just two minutes into the match, no doubt with spectators still getting to their seats, Fiorentina’s Nico Gonzalez found himself in possession at the top of the box, looking to get by Rick Karsdorp, only for the Dutchman to stick out a toe and clip Gonzalez on the shin, somehow with enough force to send the Fiorentina attacker tumbling to the ground in a heap. A predictable VAR review later, and sure enough the home side were awarded the penalty with a cool finish from Gonzalez giving the hosts the lead on the evening.
It didn’t take long for Fiorentina to double their lead, as just five minutes later, Fiorentina found themselves once again in possession, this time with Giacomo Bonaventura bringing up the ball on the counter. With Roma’s defenders looking to get back in position, Bonaventura found himself with acres of space and completely unchallenged, even as he approached the top of the box. Sure enough, with all the time in the world at his disposal, Bonaventura was able to pick out his spot and slot the ball home, giving Rui Patricio absolutely no chance and sucking the life out of the Giallorossi all in one fell swoop.
With a two goal lead and buoyed by a raucous home crowd, Fiorentina didn’t look back - completely suffocating Roma for the rest of the match en-route to a two goal win. A late Leonardo Spinazzola appearance - officially marking his return from a brutal Achilles injury -was the lone bright spot for the Giallorossi, you just wish his return came in more cheerful circumstances.
In case you missed any of the action, “enjoy” the highlights below.