Tammy Abraham converted a controversial last-gasp penalty to give Roma victory over 10-man Spezia after heroics from goalkeeper Ivan Provedel.
The Giallorossi had Jose Mourinho suspended after insulting the referee, with Sergio Oliviera, Felix Afena-Gyan and Leonardo Spinazzola injured, plus Nicolò Zaniolo only fit for the bench. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Gianluca Mancini returned, with teenage Poland international Nicola Zalewski given his first Serie A start. Rey Manaj sat out a ban for Spezia, though Kelvin Amian returned from his suspension.
Mancini’s free header on a corner was parried by Ivan Provedel in the third minute, but Spezia lost Jacopo Sala to a hamstring strain early on.
Daniele Verde threatened a stunning strike when he skinned Zalewski to blast not far over from a very tricky angle, but Roma went even closer moments later, as Lorenzo Pellegrini’s scorcher was fingertipped onto the upright and Provedel also denied the Tammy Abraham rebound.
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Abraham and Pellegrini curled wide, but Spezia went down to 10 men after Amian received a second yellow card for a shirt tug on Pellegrini, on his comeback from another suspension.
Abraham turned a free header off target straight after the restart, then moments later Bryan Cristante’s strike thumped the upright with Provedel beaten.
Yet 10-man Spezia almost took the lead when M’Bala Nzola shrugged off Zalewski and stung Rui Patricio’s gloves.
Roma continued to waste their chances, Veretout and Pellegrini off target, then Provedel at full stretch palming a Pellegrini curler round the post.
Abraham was clear on goal, but tried to assist Pellegrini instead, and as the move continued Provedel got down to fingertip another Zaniolo snooker shot wide.
It was chaos in stoppages, as Kevin Agudelo’s shot was charged down by Marash Kumbulla, but Roma had a mad scramble in the six-yard box that culminated in Nikolaou clearing Eldor Shomurodov’s attempt off the line.
The drama continued, as from a corner Zaniolo managed to hit the crossbar twice in the same move before another mad goal-line scramble. Then VAR called, as there was a high foot that caught Zaniolo during his diving header for the first of those attempts that hit the woodwork, and the referee awarded a penalty with the last kick of the game. Spezia were furious, as Zaniolo was diving for the ball, so the foot arguably was not that high to be dangerous.
Abraham showed ice cold blood in his veins, because he kept his calm to drill the penalty low into the near bottom corner, despite Provedel again getting a fingertip to it.
Spezia 0-1 Roma
Abraham pen 99 (R)
Sent off: Amian 45 (S)