Roma fought back from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 in a hugely entertaining game, as both sides rattled the woodwork.
This was a must-win game for the Giallorossi, who needed to keep second place ahead of Lazio going into the Rome Derby. Alessandro Florenzi was suspended with Gervinho, Douglas Maicon, Kevin Strootman and Leandro Castan injured, but Francesco Totti returned to the line-up after being dropped for a few games. The Friulani missed Antonio Di Natale and Molla Wague.
It was a special game for Udinese Coach Andrea Stramaccioni, who is Roman and worked for six years in the club’s youth academy.
Victor Ibarbo volleyed a Juan Manuel Iturbe cross over and the hosts dominated possession, but without making much of an impact.
Instead, Udinese scored at their first opportunity. Kostas Manolas was caught in possession by Cyril Thereau, who forced a tough save out of Morgan De Sanctis at the near post, but Stipe Perica volleyed in the rebound from six yards. It was a debut Serie A goal for the 19-year-old who arrived on loan from Chelsea in January.
Roma were furious five minutes later when Ivan Piris was booked for clattering into Ibarbo, as they wanted a straight red because he was running on goal. However, that would’ve been harsh, as there were other defenders in the vicinity and he was in a fairly wide position.
From the resulting free kick, Totti hit a bullet through the wall that Orestis Karnezis did brilliantly to beat away at the near bottom corner.
Radja Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi had shots charged down in quick succession, another from the Belgian was deflected over the bar and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa went on a surprisingly mazy run to fire over at the near post.
Despite this siege, Udinese almost went 2-0 up when Perica’s diving header from six yards went wide on a Silvan Widmer cross.
Ibarbo got a toe to a low Jose Holebas cross from the left, anticipating Karnezis, but turned just wide from point-blank range. The Colombian squirmed away from two defenders for a curling finish beaten away by Karnezis. Allan went on a dangerous counter from the Roma corner, but over-hit the pass for Thereau.
Moments later, the Giallorossi got their deserved equaliser. It was a fine move, Miralem Pjanic setting up Totti for a curling cross that Nainggolan volleyed into the roof of the net.
On the stroke of half-time it could so easily have been Udinese in front again, but Guilherme’s fierce free kick thumped the crossbar with De Sanctis well beaten.
Within 30 seconds of the restart, De Rossi sprinted back for a decisive sliding tackle on Emmanuel Badu, accidentally getting a stud on the eyebrow that left him with a nasty cut.
Once again, Roma had long periods of pressure only to risk on the counter with De Sanctis denying Thereau at the near post with an outstretched foot. Yanga-Mbiwa also had to sprint back to tackle Allan after the high offside trap failed.
The Giallorossi took the lead for the first time in the game thanks to a double defensive howler. Thomas Heurtaux failed to nod away Nainggolan’s cross, then Widmer hit a fresh air clearance, allowing Vasilis Torosidis to tap in from five yards.
The tempo dropped, as Roma could sit back and not allow Udinese counters, so Piris blasted over the bar, but Nainggolan flicked an Iturbe low cross with his heel and Karnezis got a touch to turn it on to the far post.
Moments later the Giallorossi rattled the woodwork again, this time with a deflected Jose Holebas strike that cannoned off the underside of the bar. Danilo’s intervention was decsive to get it off target.
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