Roma have moved ahead of Juventus in the point table after securing a 2-0 win over Spezia.
Before the season started, Roma fans would have expected their team to be in the Serie A title race if they were leading Juventus halfway through the season, but in the current landscape, that only keeps them in contention for a Europa League spot.
The Giallorossi are sixth on the table with 28 points, 14 points adrift of league leaders Inter Milan and 8 points shy of Napoli, who occupy the last Champions League qualifying spot at 4th position.
Jose Mourinho’s men suffered two back-to-back defeats in their previous two games, so they were desperate for putting an end to that dreadful run.
Chris Smalling struck early on to hand the hosts a relaxing lead as he headed in a rebound after Tammy Abraham saw his effort denied by Ivan Provedel.
Unlucky Tammy Abraham
Abraham, who has scored four league goals this season, orchestrated another goal-scoring chance in the 25th minute as he prudently pinged a pass towards Matias Vina.
But, Provdel did well to steer it away for a corner.
On the other end of the pitch, Spezia threatened to nick an equalizer through Arkadiusz Reca, but Rui Patricio was alert on Roma goal to keep his team’s lead intact.
Abraham was left frustrated once again when he hit the bar in a rather eccentric fashion in the first-half stoppage time.
The former Chelsea man met a Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross with his chest, and it nearly crept into the Spezia net, but the goal post stood in the way.
It was the seventh time this season that the woodwork denied Abraham of a goal.
Jordan Veretout did attempt a rebound shot, but Martin Erlic and Provedel’s prompt reaction kept the score unchanged.
Spezia came out strong in the start of the second half, but their newfound vigor waned away when Roma picked up their second goal of the night.
Ibanez makes it 2-0
Roma exposed Spezia’s aerial vulnerabilities once again as Roger Ibanez beat Provedel with a pounding header.
Rey Manaj scored for Spezia afterwards, but VAR duly ruled out the goal for offside.
The Albanian was clearly in an offside position when he tapped the ball into the net, but on-pitch officials allowed the goal to stand.
Roma youngster Felix Afena-Gyan put the ball into the net in the dying minutes of the game, but the referee sent him off, showing him his second yellow card of the night because of handball.
Unsurprisingly, Mourinho was furious with the decision and called out the referee for incompetence in his post–match interview.
Thiago Motta’s Spezia lost for the 11th time this season and now dangerously hovers above the relegation zone.
But, they put on an inspiring display against a much better side in Roma. They can hope for better results in coming matches, if they can replicate last night’s performance.