Francesco Totti scored on his comeback, but Roma only squeezed a 3-2 thriller against Udinese to retain second place.
The Giallorossi welcomed back captain Francesco Totti a month after his thigh strain, but Daniele De Rossi was still suspended and Federico Balzaretti injured. The squad and crowd wore orange in the warm-up as a tribute to Kevin Strootman, who will miss the rest of the season and the World Cup after damaging knee ligaments in last week’s defeat to Napoli. Udinese had Bruno Fernandes banned and Gabriel Silva injured, but were fresh from beating Milan.
It took just two minutes for the first shot on target, as 17-year-old Simone Scuffet got down to palm Mattia Destro’s effort round the base of the near post.
Emmanuel Badu had a couple of snapshots, while Scuffet struggled to beat away a powerful Mehdi Benatia screamer.
Totti marked his comeback with the opening goal of the night. The captain was hovering when Scuffet parried a Gervinho effort set up by Miralem Pjanic and turned in from 11 metres with the goalkeeper out of action.
Udinese fought back and a minute later Morgan De Sanctis got down quickly for a one-handed save on Badu’s toe-poke from close range.
Roma doubled their lead with a well-worked counter-attack. Gervinho ran on to a searching Totti ball over the top and his slide-rule pass sent Destro through, even though he took two attempts to finally beat Scuffet.
Antonio Di Natale shrugged off a defender to go clear through the middle and his curler was kept out by another splendid De Sanctis one-handed save. The striker showed great class by walking over to congratulate the goalkeeper on his performance.
Di Natale aimed another effort over the bar, as Udinese stayed in the game despite going 2-0 down. They made that pressure count straight after the restart, as Allan won back possession in midfield by pressing Totti and Gianpiero Pinzi surged forward to place his powerful angled drive into the far bottom corner. That was only the third Serie A goal Roma have conceded on home turf this season and it was netted by a Lazio youth product.
Suddenly the tide had turned and the ball squirmed past Benatia to send Di Natale clear, but De Sanctis rushed out and got just enough on the shot from close range to deflect it off target.
Totti fired wide at full stretch under pressure from Widmer, Dodo’s shot was charged down from a corner and Radja Nainggolan’s right-foot finish wasn’t powerful enough to trouble Scuffet.
Vasilis Torosidis scored a sensational goal out of nowhere and with his weaker left foot, as he cut in from the right flank and released a fierce strike into the bottom corner from a good 25 metres out.
Yet again, Udinese refused to give up and Di Natale’s curler was palmed out of the far top corner by a flying De Sanctis save. Di Natale then combined with Allan, but the midfielder slipped and hoofed the finish wide from 12 yards.
Benatia dived in against former teammate Luis Muriel to stop him pulling the trigger, but again Udinese clawed their way back into contention.
De Sanctis did well to parry a Danilo header from a corner, but the rebound was volleyed in by Dusan Basta from six yards to make it 3-2. Roma had now conceded as many goals in one game as they had in the previous 13 at the Olimpico.
Alessandro Florenzi should’ve made it 4-2 late on, but he ballooned over when one-on-one with Scuffet from a Pjanic assist.