AS Roma may have been knocked out of Coppa Italia on Tuesday night, but they will remain in our hearts forever, having produced one of the most disastrous 30 minutes of football in the process.
I Giallorossi hosted relegation-threatened Spezia at the Stadio Olimpico for the round of 16 of the tournament, in what should have been a simple progression to the quarter-finals.
Instead, it turned into one of the biggest nightmares a team can imagine, and left coach Paulo Fonseca on the edge of the sack. So what exactly is wrong with the Serie A giants in their cup adventure?
Setting up: 2-2 in normal times
To be fair, the warning signs were in place from the first whistle. Roma managed to lose two goals in the first 15 minutes, which left them with a lot of work to do. Surprisingly, this has little relevance to the disaster that followed.
Fonseca’s men bounced back from the pullover, and forward Borja Mayoral missed two great opportunities to complete the comeback and reserve their place in the next round. Alas, the game went into overtime. This is where the fun begins.
Extra time: two red cards … in a minute
In the first minute of the extra 30 seconds, defender Gianluca Mancini embarked on a risky challenge, grabbed his man and received a second yellow card with his marching orders. Now at 10 men, Roma couldn’t afford any stupid mistakes.
Fast forward a full 20 seconds.
Spezia played the free kick forward and the long ball caught up to Giallorossi’s flat-footed defense. Goalkeeper Pau Lopez came charging from his line and attempted a flying karate kick on the ball.
Unfortunately, the Spaniard completely missed his target, almost beheading the Spezia striker at the same time. The referee had no alternative but to award a free kick and give his second red card. in less than a minute.
Injury insult: Roma 2-4 Spezia
Now facing 28 more minutes with just nine men and the third-choice goalie between the sticks, it was back to the walls for the hosts. The Fonseca boys hung on as best they could, but were defeated two minutes into the second half when Daniele Verde scored to give Spezia the lead.
For outsiders, this goal cannot be more important than any other. But for Roma fans, seeing a header from a five-foot-five winger, who went through the Giallorossi academy and came back to haunt them, was another kick in the goolies. .
The torture did not end there, however. Riccardo Saponara killed the game in the 119th minute, producing a Francecso Totti-esque token to humiliate replacement scorer Daniel Fuzato and end the embarrassment.
Icing on the cake: the match is canceled
So the last 30 minutes were probably the worst in football history. But fear not, Roma supporters, those whole two hours were in fact a complete waste of time.
It turns out that the Roma bench had either lost count of how many substitutions they made, or misunderstood Coppa Italia rules, and accidentally made six changes instead of five during the game, officially voiding the result and losing the match for Spezia.
Roma vice-captain Lorenzo Pellegrini was the only one to notice this clerical error at the time, repeatedly informing coach Fonseca and his team that they were about to perform a sixth replacement, but his calls have fallen on deaf ears.
In the end, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but it only added to the chaos surrounding a team that had to give up a game for the second time this season due to errors off the field.
Who would be a Roma supporter, eh?