Roma recovered from a shocking Robin Olsen howler to beat Genoa 3-2 in a bizarre atmosphere, but it did little to boost confidence.
The atmosphere was extremely frosty after a series of poor results, culminating in a draw with nine-man Cagliari and Champions League defeat to Viktoria Plzen. The ultras staged a protest against club, players and Coach, staying silent for the opening 10 minutes, while there were critical banners all over the city.
With Edin Dzeko, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy still injured, Eusebio Di Francesco took a huge gamble, dropping Patrik Schick and using Nicolò Zaniolo as the False 9 in a 3-4-3 formation. Genoa were without a win since September 30, made their debut under third Coach of the season Cesare Prandelli in a 1-1 draw with SPAL, although Domenico Criscito was sent off after just 11 minutes. The captain was therefore suspended, with Gianluca Lapadula, Koray Gunter and Luca Mazzitelli injured.
It was the worst possible start for an already very nervous Giallorossi team. Oscar Hiljemark’s hopeful snapshot from distance squirmed through Robin Olsen’s arms and legs, he turned and watched it roll towards the empty net, but by the time he reacted, Krzysztof Piatek had already pounced to give Genoa the lead.
Roma tried to react, Federico Fazio drilling wide after a Zaniolo knockdown, and it worked the second time they attempted the free kick routine, the defender finding the near bottom corner from 13 yards.
However, it lasted barely two minutes before Roma were punished in a not dissimilar set play at the other end. Hiljemark was left completely unmarked to turn in from six yards at the back post after Sandro flicked on the corner.
With the last move of the half, Justin Kluivert ran forward from his own half, combined with Under and placed a precise angled drive into the far bottom corner.
Barely 30 seconds into the second half, Ionut Radu flapped at a cross and Cengiz Under incredibly blazed over the open goal.
At the other end, Olsen had another shocking howler, letting Lazovic’s effort squirm under his arms into the far bottom corner. However, he and Roma were rescued by VAR, which showed Piatek was marginally offside in the build-up.
Instead, the hosts took the lead for the first time, as Bryan Cristante completed a give and go with Kluivert on the edge of the box and the ex-Atalanta man drilled in a low rocket for 3-2.
Romero made a brave and decisive block on Under in the D, Piatek turned for a shot smothered by Olsen and Roma nearly got another on 84 minutes. Radu was at full stretch to fingertip a Kolarov angle drive into the path of Cristante, who hit the upright from point-blank range.
It remained open and Piatek had a dangerous counter-attack saved by Olsen. Genoa poured forward throughout the final minutes, pinning Roma back into their own final third.
Goran Pandev had penalty appeals deep into stoppages, as Alessandro Florenzi seemed to push him as he was mid-air trying to head a cross, but there was no VAR review. It was very similar to an incident in the Turin Derby, where Andrea Belotti also did not get a spot-kick or second look.
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