Cesena arguably had the better of the Coppa Italia quarter-final, but were beaten 2-1 by Roma with a last-gasp Francesco Totti penalty.
The winners of this fixture will go on to face Lazio in the semi-final, while the other clash is between Juventus and Napoli.
Francesco Totti got his first start of 2017 in a False 9 role, but Clement Grenier’s international transfer hadn’t come through yet and Mohamed Salah was at the Africa Cup of Nations. Cesena were the only remaining Serie B side in the tournament, having eliminated Empoli and Sassuolo. Michael Agazzi, Daniele Capelli and Emmanuel Cascione missed out.
Stephan El Shaarawy had a good early chance when running on to the Antonio Rudiger chipped pass, but couldn’t steer it past the goalkeeper from a tight angle.
At the other end, Alejandro Rodriguez wasted a promising opportunity by refusing to take with his left foot and attempted a bizarre twisting volley.
Diego Perotti limped off with a thigh problem and made way for Edin Dzeko. Cesena threatened again and Alisson needed a save on Alessandro Ligi’s deflected effort.
On 24 minutes, a free kick found Kone unmarked at the back post and he volleyed onto the outside of the upright.
Dzeko couldn’t find the target on a splendid Totti assist, but Alisson flew to fingertip the Rodriguez looping header over the bar.
The goalkeeper had to sprint off his line to flap the ball off Rodriguez’s foot after Kostas Manolas was again caught out by a long ball.
Luciano Spalletti introduced Radja Nainggolan for defender Juan Jesus, moving Mario Rui and Bruno Peres back into defence. The Belgian made an immediate impact, stinging Federico Agliardi’s gloves with his first real save of the game.
Dzeko curled inches past the far post, then the Bosnian had a double chance, one beaten away by Agliardi, the other turned wide from a Totti cross.
The deadlock was eventually broken with a well-worked Roma move. Nainggolan prodded through for El Shaarawy, who rolled across and Dzeko could tap in from 10 yards.
Luca Garritano burst into the box moments later and went down, but was booked for simulation.
Cesena got a fully deserved equaliser and it was comically gifted to them, as Alisson rushed out to gather a long ball, collided with Manolas and Garritano was quick to turn into the empty net.
Totti’s ferocious free kick stung Agliardi’s gloves and in stoppages he fingertipped a Bruno Peres cross off the head of Dzeko.
It seemed to be heading for extra time when Kevin Strootman ran on to a long ball and tried to flick it across, but was clattered by Agliardi for a penalty. Cesena argued the midfielder had run into the goalkeeper after releasing the ball. Nonetheless, Totti stepped up and converted into the near bottom corner with the last kick of the game to send Roma into the semi-finals against Lazio.
Roma 2-1 Cesena
Dzeko 68 (R), Garritano 73 (C), Totti pen 96 (R)
Roma: Alisson; Rudiger, Manolas, Juan Jesus (Nainggolan 46); Bruno Peres, Paredes, Strootman, Mario Rui; Perotti (Dzeko 21), El Shaarawy (Emerson 82); Totti
Cesena: Agliardi; Perticone, Rigione, Ligi; Laribi (Garritano 56), Balzano, Kone, Setola, Vitale, Renzetti; Ciano (Cocco 73), Rodriguez (Panico 85)