Roma got back on track with a 4-1 victory over Palermo, but Mattia Destro scored his debut goal and got sent off – all in seven minutes on the pitch!
The Giallorossi fans were starting to lose faith in Zdenek Zeman after twice fumbling a lead to lose 3-2 against Udinese and Parma. They welcomed a Palermo side who also crumbled for a 2-2 draw with Milan after going 2-0 up midweek, so fireworks were expected. Daniele De Rossi and Leandro Castan were not fit enough to start, but Pablo Daniel Osvaldo shook off a knock. Federico Balzaretti returned from injury to face his former club and Panagiotis Tachtsidis was back from suspension. Both Zeman and Tachtsidis were jeered by the crowd when their names were read out and a banner read: ‘Our patience lasts one more week.’
With both Maarten Stekelenburg and Bogdan Lobont sidelined, Mauro Goicoechea got his first Serie A start. The Rosanero missed Abel Hernandez, Massimo Donati and Mauro Cetto, but chose to drop Josip Ilicic to the bench. Michel Morganella played with a bandaged head, as he required stitches after walking into some gym equipment.
It took 11 minutes to break the deadlock, as Ivan Piris’ cross found Francesco Totti and the header was palmed on to the upright by Samir Ujkani, but the captain was quickest to react and got the rebound in.
Fabrizio Miccoli threatened to curl in directly from a corner, but Goicoechea was ready to palm it out for another set play which the goalkeeper again fingertipped over the bar.
Osvaldo was stopped with a crunching Ezequiel Munoz tackle on the edge of the box that could well be considered a red card offence, as he was clear on goal, but the referee waved play on. Replays show the defender did not make contact with the ball, so at the very least it was a free kick.
Palermo shot themselves in the foot for the second goal, as Ujkani came tearing off his line to pluck a long ball out of the air, but collided with teammate Munoz, so Osvaldo was able to pounce and roll it into an empty net!
Eros Pisano was having real problems, so was replaced by Nicolas Bertolo after just 33 minutes. Totti hit a scorching volley on Osvaldo’s cross that whistled just wide. Balzaretti strayed offside to ruin an inspired Totti through ball, then Ujkani was at full stretch to deny an Erik Lamela solo strike.
Roma were frustrated when the referee halted play for a Palermo offside, as Osvaldo was already being sent clear at the other end, so should’ve played the advantage.
Goicoechea also needed all his height to palm a Jasmin Kurtic snapshot round the base of the upright. From the corner, Santiago Garcia’s header went across the face of goal rather than in at the near post.
A fantastic move with Lamela and Osvaldo sliced the Palermo defence in two, but the roll across for Osvaldo was crucially intercepted as the Rosanero risked an own goal.
After the restart, Osvaldo’s acrobatic scissor-kick was deflected wide for a corner, from which Nicolas Burdisso’s bullet header forced a splendid reaction save out of Ujkani.
Michael Bradley combined with Lamela for the Argentine’s strike over the bar, then Lamela’s snapshot was deflected off Garcia to loop over the bar. Osvaldo looked certain to score on 57 minutes when surging through the middle in a one-on-one with Ujkani, but incredibly fired wide.
A desperate Marquinhos interception cleared Miccoli’s mazy run and pass into the six-yard box, then Totti scuffed a finish off target from Osvaldo’s assist. It was end to end stuff now and Balzaretti’s fierce strike bounced off Ujkani’s chest, but the goalkeeper was able to recover before it looped over him. Palermo had two chances in quick succession, but desperate defending scrambled clear from Bertolo and Goicoechea smothered a Miccoli drive from distance.
Roma finally added a third when Totti threaded through for Tachtsidis down the left and he rolled across with a pass Ujkani missed for Lamela to tap in unmarked at the back post.
Ilicic stung Goicoechea’s palms with a powerful angled drive, but substitute Mattia Destro scored his first goal for the club. The Italian international ran on to a through ball and managed to keep his footing as he dribbled round Ujkani to deposit into an empty net from a tight angle. However, the striker had already been booked for a high tackle and started to remove his shirt to celebrate, earning a red card! It was certainly an eventful appearance, as Destro was on the pitch for seven minutes, scored a goal and received two yellows, which means he’ll be suspended next week against Lazio.
Miccoli wouldn’t give in and tested Goicoechea, but it was Ilicic who got one back for Palermo moments later. He ran on to a deflected Miccoli pass and smashed it under the bar for his first goal since November 2011. Roma protested, as they believed Miccoli had fouled Burdisso in the build-up.
Ujkani parried a Miralem Pjanic free kick and his follow-up from the corner at full stretch.
Sent off: Destro 80 (R)