Francesco Totti had a penalty saved and bagged a brace in an exciting 2-2 draw with Catania that leaves even Europa League qualification in doubt.
This could well be Luis Enrique’s final home game on the Giallorossi bench and, having lost sight of third place, was now hoping to clinch Europa League qualification. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Erik Lamela returned from suspension, though the Argentine was on the bench, and Marquinho was redirected as a left-back. Aleandro Rosi, Marten Stekelenburg, Nicolas Burdisso, Juan and Marco Cassetti missed out. Vincenzo Montella was a very familiar face at the Stadio Olimpico, although he had Nicolas Spolli suspended and injured Ciro Capuano, David Suazo, Alessandro Potenza and Cristian Llama.
Francesco Totti celebrated his 500th Serie A appearance in a Roma jersey and gave a special jersey to physio Giorgio Rossi on his retirement after 55 years at the club.
Miralem Pjanic went close at the third minute at the end of a well-worked move between Totti and Osvaldo, his shot deflected inches wide for a corner by Mariano Izco.
Juan Pablo Carrizo flapped at an Osvaldo cross and in trying to get it back into his hands tumbled into Fabio Borini and a teammate. The referee decided it was worthy of a penalty, much to Catania’s irritation. Carrizo made up for it by parrying the Totti penalty and the Roma captain ballooned the follow-up over the bar!
Totti went close again with an angled drive from close range, but this time Carrizo stuck out a foot to parry at the near post. At the other end Papu Gomez went on the counter and spread for Gonzalo Bergessio to fire straight at Bogdan Lobont.
Catania had a fantastic scoring opportunity from a chipped free kick, as Bellusci knocked it back for Nicola Legrottaglie, forcing Lobont to beat it away with his legs from close range.
Osvaldo flicked inches wide of the back post, but was offside anyway from Borini’s assist. Lobont got down to beat away a Gomez screamer that bounced right in front of the goalkeeper, but at the other end Carrizo flew to fingertip a Fernando Gago blockbuster out from under the bar.
Lobont had to scramble clear when Rodrigo Taddei scuffed his clearance from a Francesco Lodi free kick. The move continued and Lobont parried from Bergessio in the six-yard-box, who was offside anyway.
Roma went straight up the other end of the field and went close as Osvaldo combined with Borini for a daisy-cutter that skimmed the woodwork.
After the break Osvaldo’s lob was well over and Carrizo’s gloves were stung by a powerful Totti shot. Roma finally broke through when Totti unleashed a left-foot strike from outside the box that curled into the near bottom corner with Carrizo rooted to the spot, as the goalkeeper was unsighted by some of his teammates. It was the captain’s 214th goal in 500 Serie A games.
The referee awarded a Catania penalty when Gabriel Heinze mistimed his tackle on Pablo Barrientos. Lodi stepped up and sent Lobont the wrong way to draw the Elefantini level with his ninth goal of the campaign.
Roma had the opportunity to restore their lead moments later, but Marquinho knocked down the ball for Borini to blast over from eight yards. Lobont scrambled back to control an over-hit Daniele De Rossi backpass.
Catania turned the game around completely, as a corner was taken short and passed to the edge of the area where Giovanni Marchese smashed it first time into the roof of the net, leaving the goalkeeper stunned.
It was nearly 3-1, as Marco Motta was allowed a free header over the bar from another corner. Substitute Bojan Krkic came flying in at the back post and tried to deflect a cross with his chest rather than his head, allowing Carrizo to pluck it out of the air.
Totti restored parity when Marquinho and Pjanic combined down the left and the midfielder rolled across for Totti to side-foot into the near bottom corner from nine yards with Carrizo rooted to the spot.
Carrizo flew to palm a splendid Bojan effort over the bar, but there was controversy and fury in the build-up. Roma continued playing with Bergessio down injured, so the Sicilians reacted by kicking Pjanic off the ball and a row erupted at the whistle.
Lamela’s reverse pass sent Pjanic through to the by-line, where he forced Carrizo to parry at the base of the near post and another row broke out. Heinze needed a crucial tackle to stop Catellani in the box.
Roma suddenly went on the counter from the Catania corner and Lamela was clear on goal, but fired straight at the goalkeeper, then Totti scuffed the follow-up. Bojan fell in the box when losing his balance under pressure from Nicola Legrottaglie, but the referee waved away timid appeals as he had already lost the ball.
Deep into stoppages De Rossi's glancing header whistled wide amid jeers from the Olimpico crowd.
Saved penalty: Totti 8 (R)