Alessandro Florenzi’s last-gasp strike gave Roma a 2-1 victory over Torino despite a Ciro Immobile stunner of a volley.
The Giallorossi gave Brazilian Rafael Toloi his absolute debut, replacing the suspended Mehdi Benatia in central defence after his arrival on loan from Sao Paulo in January, while Daniele De Rossi returned from his three-match ban. Kevin Strootman and Federico Balzaretti were long-term absentees. Toro missed Paulo Vitor Barreto, Migjen Basha, Salvatore Masiello and Marcelo Larrondo.
Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli was in the stands to watch both Mattia Destro and Ciro Immobile, the Granata man joint Capocannoniere after his hat-trick at the weekend.
Toro had beaten Roma only once in their previous 21 Serie A encounters going into this game. Francesco Totti marked his 700th appearance in a Giallorossi jersey.
Douglas Maicon dribbled into the box and fell after a Kamil Glik intervention, but the referee was well positioned and waved play on. Replays suggest there was a clip on the Brazilian’s ankle, but he also dragged his foot looking for contact.
Maicon tested Daniele Padelli with a lob and Destro’s scuffed header was smothered, while on the counter Leandro Castan needed a perfect sliding tackle to stop ex-Roma man Alessio Cerci going clear.
There was a well-worked Roma move on 27 minutes, as Maicon pulled back from the right and De Rossi’s dummy allowed it through for Totti, whose shot was well read by Padelli at the near post.
Alessio Romagnoli’s shot on the half-volley from distance was also plucked out of the air and Toro’s first chance was on 33 minutes with Immobile’s effort flashing across the face of goal.
Padelli was called into a desperate double save, as he denied Destro from point-blank range with his legs at the near post and got back up to palm Miralem Pjanic’s follow-up round the other upright.
Roma did break through when Gervinho threaded through for Destro, who was marginally offside, and beat Padelli at full stretch to prod it past the on-rushing goalkeeper. It was his ninth Serie A goal of the season.
The Granata threatened before the break when Nikola Maksimovic’s attempt from a set play was charged down for a corner.
Immobile got Torino back on level terms with an absolutely fantastic goal. He went round the back of Toloi to get on the end of a long Giuseppe Vives ball forward and hit an extraordinary left-foot volley across Morgan De Sanctis into the far top corner. It was reminiscent of Marco Van Basten’s legendary goal for Holland and the ideal way to impress Italy Coach Prandelli in the stands. This was also Immobile’s 12th goal in the last 14 Serie A appearances.
Nainggolan headed over from a Maicon cross, while Immobile fired off target from the edge of the box. Roma were pushing forward, but that left gaps for a Jasmin Kurtic counter-attack, as Cerci controlled with his thigh and scuffed the finish inches past the base of the far post.
Maicon was lively and dribbled round Matteo Darmian to pull back, but Gervinho side-footed inches wide from seven yards.
A free kick from substitute Adem Ljajic was off target and Gervinho had another attempt blocked on the edge of the box. Debutant Toloi stung Padelli’s gloves from distance with a sudden right-foot screamer.
Cerci got to the by-line and pulled back, but Maicon crucially intercepted before Immobile could tap in.
Torino remained dangerous to the end, as Kurtic tested De Sanctis with a free kick, then a wayward shot was redirected by Glik to skim the back stick.
The game was wide open and in stoppages Alessandro Florenzi got Roma’s winner. Gervinho’s slide-rule pass sent Florenzi down the left and he smashed his finish across Padelli into the far top corner from 10 yards. Rudi Garcia is usually a calm figure on the touchline, but he leapt and screamed for joy at that late strike.