Roma put their fans through an emotional rollercoaster this evening, picking themselves up from a deficit to overcome Lecce 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Jose Mourinho’s men went from the jeers in the capital to absolute ecstasy in the space of three minutes.
When Poltus Almqvist fired Lecce 1-0 up in the 72nd minute, Roma seemed to be on the verge of losing a second straight Serie A game following a 1-0 defeat at Inter last weekend. But not even the most optimistic Giallorossi fans could’ve foreseen what would happen in injury time.
It took Sardar Azmoun and Romelu Lukaku only three minutes into stoppages to turn the match around and climb to seventh in the standings, only four points adrift of fourth-placed Napoli. Meanwhile, a sixth consecutive league game without a victory left Lecce stranded in mid-table.
Let’s look at the best and worst performers of the game.
Falcone’s superb performance was the only reason Roma failed to seal three points already in the first half. His magnificent night goes well beyond just the penalty-kick save to fend off Lukaku. He denied the Belgian twice from an open play and pulled off an exquisite diving stop to thwart Houssem Aouar before halftime.
Azmoun came off the bench in the 73rd minute and played a starring role in Roma’s comeback. He took his only chance of the game to level the score in stoppages, latching onto Nicola Zalewski’s teasing cross and sending his devastating header into the top corner, leaving Falcone petrified on the goal line.
You’d wonder why we’ve selected a player who missed a penalty and two more promising chances in this section. Well, it’s because Lukaku’s winning mentality tipped the scales in Roma’s favor when it mattered the most. With a classic ‘Lukaku’ goal, the Belgian brushed off his marker before finishing with aplomb to atone for his first-ever miss from the spot in Serie A.
His unintentional handball couldn’t pan out better for Lecce. He didn’t just prevent Paulo Dybala from probably opening the scoring but gave Falcone a chance to save Lukaku’s penalty. However, it wasn’t an intervention worthy of a Serie A center-back, and truth be told, his whole night was equally chaotic.
A player of Strefezza’s quality cannot afford to miss a sitter in a game of this intensity, especially when his side would’ve probably waltzed away should he made it 2-0 in the 85th minute. The Lecce captain didn’t even have to go for the goal himself, as he had two teammates waiting in close proximity, but he went for glory and failed.
Lameck Banda made the Roma captain look like a youth academy defender with a devastating pace and a delightful cut-back, which led to Lecce’s opener. Other than letting the diminutive forward leave him in the dust, the Italy international had a tough night. Mourinho could’ve taken him out sooner.
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