While José Mourinho's squad wasn't fully fit, with the return of Paulo Dybala and Renato Sanches, Roma was armed well enough to make light work of a Lecce side that had won only once in its prior six matches. With Dybala and star striker Romelu Lukaku starting from the word go, Mourinho's intent was clear: he meant to bury Lecce early and often.
With Dybala, El Shaarawy, and Lukaku running wild in the final third, it felt like only a matter of time before Roma shattered Lecce's resolve. So when Roma reeled off three shots in the first six minutes alone, it felt like Lecce's luck would run out sooner rather than later. And while the first chance of the match didn't come from the run of play, with Dybala drawing PK in only the 6th minute, the stage was set for another Roma rout.
Only this time, the script didn't follow suit. Rather than burying the ball in the back of the net, Lukaku fired straight at Lecce keeper Wladimiro Falcone, who turned away the attempt without batting an eye, setting the stage for a frustrating and ultimately resilient evening at the Stadio Olimpico.
Undeterred by that denial, Roma compiled another seven shots on goal before the stroke of halftime, only to see their attempts blocked by Lecce's backline or turned away once again by Falcone. And as is often the case when Roma piles up shots with nothing to show for it, their opponents seemingly fall backward into a goal.
In this instance, Pontus Almqvist proved to be in the right place at the right time. He seized the opportunity and picked up a loose ball inside the six-yard box after Lameck Banda accidentally lost control of the ball and ran into Gianluca Mancini and Diego Llorente. Despite falling, Banda managed to get enough on the ball to find Almqvist.
With approximately 20 minutes left on the clock, Roma faced the ugly prospect of dropping three points to Lecce while sliding further down the table. But thanks to a pair of key plays from his second-half subs (and his superstars), Mourinho left the Olimpico smiling today after his club scratched and clawed their way back from defeat thanks to two stoppage-time goals.
First up was Sardar Azmoun, who burst into the box and converted a Nicola Zalewski cross with a powerfully struck header that left Falcone helplessly flat-footed, starting in disbelief as the ball rocketed into the top corner. But the killing blow was even sweeter, as Dybala played Lukau into the box, leading the big Belgian just enough to give him time and space to convert the match-winner.
If you missed the manic finish to this match, feast your eyes on the highlights.