Francesco Totti was inspirational and scored his 226th Serie A goal as Roma beat Parma 2-0 to keep their European dreams alive, as they catch rivals Lazio in fifth place.
The Giallorossi had to do without Vasilis Torosidis, Mattia Destro, Miralem Pjanic and Alessio Romagnoli, but Michael Bradley returned from suspension and they brought back the three-man defence. Parma ended their run of three draws from eight games last week, but had earned just three points from their last 15 visits to the Olimpico. Among the absentees were MacDonald Mariga, Fabiano Santacroce and Djamel Mesbah, so Alvaro Ampuero received a surprise debut.
After just 60 seconds a corner was pulled back to the edge of the box for Alessandro Florenzi’s screamer just over the bar.
Erik Lamela broke the deadlock at the end of an unusual team move. Daniele De Rossi’s cross-shot took a double deflection off Florenzi and then Lamela to go in from a couple of yards.
Antonio Mirante performed a desperate save when Totti intercepted a poor Jaime Valdes pass, the goalkeeper sticking up one strong hand to keep out the fierce drive.
Simone Perrotta really should’ve made it 2-0 after a spectacular backheel volleyed flick from Totti, but he smacked the underside of the crossbar from the penalty spot on Marquinho’s pull-back.
Perrotta went down in the box, but the referee waved play on as he had tried and failed to commit Alessandro Lucarelli with a change of direction.
Roma went on a rapid counter-attack with Lamela, but Mirante held his ground to parry and defenders got back to stop Perrotta finishing it off on the rebound.
At the other end, Nicola Sansone’s effort was deflected out and from the corner teammates Yohan Benalouane and Lucarelli got in each others’ way when trying to nod in from a couple of yards.
Marco Parolo’s right-foot shot was well smothered by Maarten Stekelenburg, then Benalouane needed a last-ditch challenge to stop Florenzi controlling a long ball.
Straight after the restart Totti almost scored a sensational strike. His free kick was from an improbable angle, but he still managed to hit the underside of the bar and then the upright with remarkable ferocity to bounce off the line and back out again. The ball ricocheted off the bar, on to the post and then back off the ground like in a pinball machine.
Parma threatened an equaliser when Stekelenburg horribly fumbled a simple Massimo Gobbi cross, but was lucky that Amauri’s lob landed on the roof of an empty net.
Florenzi volleyed a corner over the bar, but Parma went so close to an equaliser on the hour mark when a corner found Gabriel Paletta’s powerful free header that smacked against the woodwork with Stekelenburg stranded.
Moments later there was another great Parma chance, as Amauri knocked down a cross for Parolo and Nicolas Burdisso had to throw himself at his feet to deflect the shot over from six yards.
Jonathan Biabiany went on one of his quick slaloms to set up Sansone, but Marquinhos dived in with a crucial block.
Totti went on the counter from a long ball and anticipated Valdes, but the referee awarded a yellow card for the Parma man’s foul just outside the box when it could easily have been considered a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
From that free kick, Totti hit an absolute missile that flew under the jumping wall and into the near bottom corner to surprise Mirante. It was his 226th Serie A goal, making him the lone all-time second top scorer in the League’s history behind Silvio Piola.
Stekelenburg smothered an Amauri turn, but Totti sprinted off on the counter-attack and Mirante used his foot to deflect the shot off target when one-on-one.