As Dusan Tadic prepared to take a penalty that he had won, it seemed that this Europa League quarterfinal tie was already slipping from the Giallorossi's hands. La Lupa were on the verge of going 2-0 down in the Amsterdam ArenA, which would have forced them to open up unduly in search of a crucial away goal.
The Giallorossi are seven points behind a top-four placement, and winning the Europa League remains, on paper, the easiest way not to sit down and watch Champions League football on tv next season.
An unlikely hero came to Roma's rescue. Pau Lopez has been much-maligned during his time in the Eternal City, with a litany of costly errors causing many to question his eye-watering €23.5m price tag.
That exorbitant fee has often seemed like a weight around the 26-year old's neck, but this time around, he seemed to justify every penny spent with a smart save on Ajax's Serbian schemer.
The Spaniard immediately turned to Roma's bench to confirm everything had gone as planned. After the match, he revealed that he had studied Tadic's penalty patterns and that research proved crucial to Roma's revival.
La Lupa looked like a transformed team after that decisive intervention. They streamed forward smartly to turn the score in their favour while also soaking up considerable pressure from their hosts, who had not lost in all competitions since December 9.
Atalanta were the last outfit to overcome the Dutch giants, and yesterday's result is even more meaningful. It's been three years since the Serie A side secured themselves a semifinal spot in continental competition as it was on April 10, 2018, when they beat Barcelona 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico to progress among the Champions League semis.
However, a 2-1 advantage is not insurmountable, especially considering La Lupa's worrying tendency to shoot themselves in the foot, something they did in Amsterdam too, with a monumental mix-up between Amadou Diawara and Gianluca Mancini triggering Davy Klaassen's opener.
The trend continued in the second stanza, with Roger Ibanez committing two significant mistakes in the space of seconds to gift the hosts a spot-kick. Nevertheless, the Brazilian could breathe a sigh of relief when the Serbian slipped up.
The former Fluminense defender made amends at the other end after a poor attempted clearance from Klaassen, and the Giallorossi were also grateful for backup netminder Kjell Scherpen's shoddy handling on their equalizer.
Despite recording such an impressive result, the sensation is that Roma escaped full censure for their blunders. They must clean things up ahead of the return leg, especially considering the long list of injuries inhibiting Paulo Fonseca's plans.
Leonardo Spinazzola is the latest to join a crowded treatment table after hobbling off midway through the first half last night. It appears that the Italy international will miss out next Thursday. The likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Stephan El Shaarawy and Chris Smalling are already in the infirmary, but Roma must get by regardless.
The Serie A ship has almost certainly sailed, and it would be no surprise to see key performers rested for this weekend's Bologna bout. Despite their imperfections, the Giallorossi are still in the race for a European trophy, hoping Pau Lopez's save is not only the turning point of the game but also of the remainder of the season.