Roma 1-2 Fiorentina: Lazzari scores late winner as 10-man hosts squander chance to close gap on third spot

The Giallorossi paid the price for unforgivable lapses of concentration as they lose more valuable points in their chase for qualification to the UEFA Champions League
Roma can count their 2-1 loss to Fiorentina as a missed opportunity in the race to qualify for the Champions League, as Steven Jovetic and Andrea Lazzari gave the away side a shock win at the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma were left picking up the pieces after their 4-0 drubbing at the weekend at the hands of Juventus. Forced to contend with a host of suspensions and injuries that included the likes of first-choice goalkeeper Maarten Stekenlenburg, Erik Lamela and Nicolas Burdisso, captain Francesco Totti returned to the fold after shaking off flu-like symptoms to start.

Despite the hosts enjoying the early possession, it was Fiorentina who went ahead in the second minute, with Jovetic stealing into the home side’s box unnoticed to loop a header over stand-in keeper Gianluca Curci.

That goal galvanized the Florence side, who went on to dominate proceedings in the first period, pinning their hosts back inside their own half. Jovetic nearly grabbed himself a second moments later when he headed into the side netting after being picked out from a deep free kick.

Roma tried to respond to the Montenegrin’s opener through Leandro Greco, but he fired his well-struck shot straight down the throat of Artur Boruc in Fiorentina’s goal. Totti opted to try his luck in the 16th minute from a direct free-kick, but skewed his shot wide when he perhaps should have tried to find a teammate in the box.

Nevertheless, it was the Viola who looked that much more threatening than their toothless opponents, creating chances at will almost every time they pushed forward.

Jovetic in particular was enjoying himself, and saw a long-range shot fly narrowly over the bar in the 20th minute before forcing Curci into a good save with a belting low free-kick. Soon after, Alessio Cerci was put through to unleash a rasping left-footed drive straight at Curci.

The Italian goalkeeper was having a torrid time, as Fiorentina again found the space to squeeze of a shot inside the Roma box which he got down to hold well. Fabio Borini, who earlier had a strong penalty shout turned away after an apparent Fiorentina handball in the box, took a potshot in the 44th minute that failed to trouble Boruc.

Luis Enrique subsequently opted to switch things around as the Romans emerged for the second half, with midfielders Marquinho and Fernando Gago coming on in an effort to overturn the deficit.

It was Roma’s turn to stay encamped in their opponents’ half, Miralem Pjanic starting a good move that ended with Pablo Osvaldo drilling one of his side’s best chances over the bar in the 56th minute.

Nevertheless, Fiorentina were not ready to go out without a fight, and that man Jovetic again popped up at the other end to fire a curling shot past the post that had Curci diving earnestly to his left.

That said, the away side were very much now on the back foot, and Roma were not to be denied their equaliser in the 71st minute, when Gago saw yet another attempt outside the box prodded in by Totti.

The Giallorossi were sniffing for a winner, and it so nearly arrived when former Viola player Osvaldo burst into their box and went around Boruc, only to take one too many a touch and see the ball creep out for a goal kick.

Despite their late endeavor however, it wasn’t to be Roma’s afternoon. Lazzari struck the winner for Fiorentina in the second minute of added time after Curci spilled substitute Adem Ljajic's shot at the former Cagliari playmaker’s feet. A minute later, Roma finished the game with 10 men as Osvaldo saw red.

More questions are to be asked of Luis Enrique as the Lupi see their outside chances of qualifying for Europe’s premier competition slip further away. Fiorentina on the other hand earned a valuable three points in staying afloat amidst the relegation dogfight, extending their three-game unbeaten streak.