Roma made short work of 10-man SPAL, who saw Dias Felipe sent off after 10 minutes, winning 3-1 with Edin Dzeko, Kevin Strootman and Lorenzo Pellegrini.
The Giallorossi had to get back on track after a 1-1 draw with Genoa and 2-0 Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid. Daniele De Rossi started his two-match Serie A ban, with Radja Nainggolan, Diego Perotti, Gregoire Defrel and Rick Karsdorp injured. SPAL were coming off a rough week, fumbling a lead to lose with Chievo and crashing out of the Coppa Italia to Cittadella. Sauli Vaisanen, Bartosz Salamon, Mirco Antenucci, Filippo Costa and Alex Meret missed out.
This fixture hadn’t been played in Serie A since 1967-68, although there was a Coppa Italia meeting in August 1982.
SPAL had a bright start, Alberto Paloschi nodding over the bar from Manuel Lazzari’s cross, while Cengiz Under fired wide on an Edin Dzeko knock-down.
Dzeko had burst away from Dias Felipe, who hauled the Bosnian back from the shoulder right on the edge of the box for a booking. However, the referee viewed it on VAR technology, decided the other defenders were too far behind so it was a clear scoring opportunity – and thus a straight red.
Stephan El Shaarawy’s curler was fingertipped over the bar, then Cengiz Under pounced on a weak Alfred Gomis punch, but the goalkeeper scrambled back to turn the volley wide of an open goal.
The siege eventually paid off with a sensational strike, ending Dzeko’s seven-game goal drought. He controlled an El Shaarawy ball over the top with his left foot, turned and drilled in off the inside of the far post with his right.
Gomis flew to palm a Kostas Manolas header off the line with one hand, Dzeko drilled wide and the goalkeeper beat away a Cengiz Under rocket, but as that move continued, El Shaarawy back-heeled it into the path of Kevin Strootman to blast into the roof of the net.
It was non-stop pressure, as Aleksandar Kolarov’s volley was off target and Gomis came flying out to deny Dzeko one-on-one after a poor Michele Cremonesi back-pass.
The second half started in similar fashion, as Kolarov curled in a cross from the left for Lorenzo Pellegrini’s powerful header at the back post, his first goal in a Giallorossi jersey.
Moments later, Manolas hauled down Mora in the area for a penalty. Ex-Roma youth academy product Federico Viviani converted the first time, but it had to be retaken for encroachment. On the second attempt, Alisson fingertipped the ‘Panenka’ chipped effort on to the bar, but Viviano turned in the rebound to get a goal back for SPAL.
It was still all Roma, though, as Gomis stuck out a leg to parry from Kolarov at the base of the near post and El Shaarawy completely misjudged an Alessandro Florenzi cross.
Emerson Palmieri made his comeback six months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament and was greeted by a standing ovation.
Patrik Schick’s free header was wide on a chipped Florenzi free kick and Gomis kept the scoreline down.
Sent off: Felipe 10 (S)
Saved penalty: Viviani 55 (S)