Francesco Totti scored twice in a thrilling 4-2 Roma victory over Fiorentina, allowing them to catch the Viola in joint fourth place. It was their fourth win on the bounce, though plenty of nervous moments and a Michael Bradley goalline clearance.
Vincenzo Montella, Alberto Aquilani and Luca Toni all returned to their old hunting ground at the Stadio Olimpico. Stevan Jovetic was back on the bench for the first time in a month, though Adem Ljajic, Michele Camporese, Ahmed Hegazy and David Pizarro (who is on compassionate leave in Chile) missed out. Juan Cuadrado was pushed up into an attacking role. Daniele De Rossi returned from a three-match ban, but was sensationally dropped by Zdenek Zeman, who moved Miralem Pjanic into attack as Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Erik Lamela were carrying injuries.
Roma took the lead with their first opportunity and a rather bizarre goal. Francesco Totti’s free kick found Panagiotis Tachtsidis at the back post and he nodded it into the ground, apparently to put it across the face of goal, but instead it bounced over Emiliano Viviano and Leandro Castan got the final touch to turn it over the line.
However, Roma showed their weakness in defence and Fiorentina their well-known abilities from set plays on the equaliser. A Borja Valero free kick was floated into the box where three Viola players were allowed to spring the offside trap to be totally unmarked. Gonzalo Rodriguez pulled back for Facundo Roncaglia to tap into an empty net.
Totti threaded through for Mattia destro, who pulled back across for the captain to fire in off the outside of his boot to restore the Giallorossi’s lead in a blistering start to this match.
Ruben Olivera should’ve been sent off after just 21 minutes, because he clearly stamped on Miralem Pjanic’s shin when the midfielder was already on the ground, sparking a brawl. However, none of the officials saw it properly and he got away with a booking. To add insult to injury, Tachtsidis was also booked for dissent.
Only a crucial Rodriguez intervention stopped Destro from firing in a third and Roncaglia’s screamer from distance stung Mauro Goicoechea’s palms.
Pjanic was sent clear only for Viviano to fingertip the angled drive inches past the post, while it had also been scuffed by a Rodriguez sliding tackle.
Tachtsidis went close to a third, but his diving header from Totti’s free kick was over the bar this time. Michael Bradley tried to thread through for Pjanic rather than go for goal from a promising position.
Pjanic got to the by-line and kept it in play for Destro, who hit the finish too weakly, allowing Viviano to parry from close range.
With the last kick of the first half, Totti went on the counter and unleashed a blockbuster from 35 metres that bent Viviano’s hand to fly into the top corner, but the Fiorentina goalkeeper should’ve done better.
Montella made a double change, introducing Mati Fernandez and Mounir El Hamdaoui, returning Cuadrado to a wide role.
It was to say the least an inspired substitution, as 45 seconds into the half Borja Valero crossed for El Hamdaoui to nod in from six yards with his first touch of the game.
Moments later Alessandro Florenzi’s effort was beaten away by Viviano, then Castan dived in to force a corner from Mati Fernandez in an amazing start to the second half.
Pjanic volleyed inches over the bar from a Totti corner, but it somehow wasn’t 4-2 when Pjanic chested down a long ball and crossed for Bradley to force a great save from Viviano, then Destro’s follow-up was charged down by Rodriguez.
Destro should’ve scored when the Tachtsidis cross whipped just past him, but the ex-Siena striker was unable to get the decisive touch.
De Rossi was finally given a run-out and Totti was just a little unbalanced so couldn’t get a long ball under control when clear on goal.
Roma thought they had a fourth when Destro nodded a Totti free kick on to the crossbar and Marquinhos turned in the rebound, but it was flagged offside.
Fiorentina were still in the game, as Toni nodded into the goalkeeper’s arms and Castan charged down a Cuadrado strike.
At the 87th minute Haris Seferovic sprung the offside trap and his fierce shot was palmed round the post by Goicoechea. From the resulting corner, the goalkeeper completely mistimed his intervention and needed Bradley to clear off the line.
It was all in the balance, but Osvaldo started and finished the move to score Roma’s fourth goal moments later. He combined with Simone Perrotta and Totti to prod past Viviano from close range in a well-worked team move.