VAR was the protagonist in Roma’s last-gasp victory over Cagliari, as it awarded a penalty – that Diego Perotti saw parried – and a Federico Fazio winner.
The Giallorossi needed a boost after drawing two of their last three Serie A games and welcomed Daniele De Rossi back from a two-match ban, but launched Patrik Schick and Edin Dzeko together for the first time. The Sardinians missed Daniele Dessena and Paolo Faragò, while Alessio Cragno started as Rafael was not fully fit.
Cagliari haven’t beaten the Giallorossi since a 4-2 thriller here in February 2013, followed by two draws and four losses, home and away.
Dzeko turned wide from a Diego Perotti pull-back and Schick’s header looped over the bar, while Joao Pedro sprung the offside trap, but couldn’t keep it in play due to an unusual bobble.
Radja Nainggolan drilled wide from the edge of the area, then moments later had another great chance, his ferocious strike beaten away by Alessio Cragno.
Perotti’s solo sprint and the De Rossi follow-up were both charged down, as Cagliari defended in numbers. Just before half-time, Alessandro Florenzi ran a big risk with a short back-pass inside his own penalty area, but Roma got away with it.
There was a bizarre moment after the restart when Dzeko ran on to a through ball and went down as Cragno came tearing out. At first the referee booked the striker for simulation, but when he was urged to look at the VAR review, he changed his mind to award a penalty instead. Cragno wisely stayed absolutely still during the stuttering Perotti run-up and was able to block the rather weak finish. That was Cragno’s second penalty save of the season.
A strange scenario summed up the game, as Perotti’s shot hit Dzeko, who in turn ran straight into teammate Schick. Eusebio Di Francesco finally made a change after 72 minutes, introducing Stephan El Shaarawy, but Cagliari lost Nicolò Barella to a dislocated finger when he fell awkwardly.
Diego Farias wasted a golden opportunity for the visitors, as he committed two defenders with a cut back only to then balloon the finish over the bar.
Perotti seemed determined to make up for his earlier error and went for goal even when he should’ve passed, curling straight at Cragno.
Deep into stoppages, Kolarov whipped in a free kick and Cragno punched it on to Fazio’s chest for the ball to ricochet back into the net from six yards. The celebrations were cut short and there were tense moments in the Olimpico, as they waited for the referee to view the VAR footage. Eventually, he ruled that there was no intentional handball and awarded the goal.
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Saved penalty: Perotti 52 (R)